Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bolognese, lentils, and rice

What to cook when you're going out for Christmas drinks with neighbours, and will be back after 8pm, with several glasses of mulled wine inside you and with no enthusiasm for work in the kitchen? A one-pot meal, which you can leave in the oven on a low heat.

The dish above (for 2) consists of a Bolognese sauce (made with 150g of beef mince and 150g of pork mince), Puy-type lentils, and arborio rice. I boiled the lentils (100g) for 10 minutes, then threw in the rice (175g) and allowed the pan to boil for a further 10 minutes. The idea was to leave the lentils and rice slightly undercooked.

I drained them, stirred them into the Bolognese in the casserole, and covered the mixture tightly with kitchen paper (to enhance the effect of the steam in the pot) before putting on the lid. I put the dish in a low oven - I won't give a setting, because my thermostat is not working properly - as we went out; we ate it when we arrived home, two hours later.

(The Bolognese sauce was similar to the mince stew in this cottage pie, only with tomato puree instead of the ketchup.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Red cabbage, beans, and cream cheese

I prefer to eat red cabbage raw than cooked. To my taste buds, it - like all brassicas - goes past its best when boiled or steamed for longer than about five minutes. However, the raw cabbage needs partners with contrasting textures, or it simply offers mouthful after mouthful of dull chewiness.

1dstp white wine vinegar
Salt, peppper
1/3tsp honey
1/3tsp Dijon mustard
2dstsp sunflower oil
1dstsp olive oil
150g cream cheese
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a large red cabbage, shredded

Put the vinegar in a large bowl, add the salt (to taste), pepper (ditto), honey and mustard, and stir until the salt, honey and mustard dissolve. Whisk in the oils. Mash in the cheese, so that it softens.

Stir in the beans and cabbage until the lumps of cheese break up and coat everything.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Oven settings

My oven thermostat is on the blink. When I set the dial to gas mark 6 (200C), a thermometer told me that the temperature was in fact 150C. So I cooked this chicken (a 2kg, free range one from Sutton Hoo) at full blast, for 30 minutes, before turning down the dial to 6, and cooking for a further 90 minutes.

It made me think that I usually set the dial according to received advice rather than to how the cooking process is developing. Better to cook the chicken this way, by monitoring its progress and adjusting the dial accordingly. Still, I'd prefer to have a properly working oven.

The wing tips are missing because I cut them off to use, with the neck, in a stock for gravy.