Saturday, February 25, 2012

Potato cakes with cheese

Cheese in a potato cake mixture may, as it cooks, cause the cakes to break up and stick to the pan. Better to lay the cheese on top, and grill it.

Use a heaped tbsp of flour for each medium (140g, say) potato. Peel the potatoes, cut them into similarly sized pieces, cover with cold water in a saucepan, add a little salt, bring to a simmer, and cook until soft. Drain, and allow to dry. Return to the pan, and mash with a hand-masher or, for a smoother result, with a food mill or potato ricer.

Stir in the flour with a little salt. Pick up the mixture by the handful, forming each into a palm-sized, flattish cake. You'll get about three for each potato. The kneading will develop some gluten, which will help the cakes to cohere.

Fry the cakes in a little oil and butter, over a low to medium heat, until brown on each side.

Put the cakes into a lined grill pan. Lay slices of cheese on top of them, and grill under a low flame until the cheese melts.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ricotta pudding

This recipe is adapted from one in Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy (she says it's from Sardinia), the main differences being that I had a 225g packet of ricotta rather than the 300g she specifies, and that I thought that 300g of honey was twice as much as I wanted.

My flan dish (22cm) may be larger than the one she uses (she doesn't give a measurement), because my pudding was ready in 30 minutes rather than the 45 she suggests.

225g ricotta
100g ground almonds
150g honey
3 eggs
Juice of one orange

Mix all the ingredients. Or, for a smoother result, put the ricotta through the blender, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Lightly oil a flan dish. Pour in the ricotta mixture, and bake at gas mark 6/200C for 30 minutes, or until golden and firm.

Cakes and puddings made with ground almonds can be somewhat dry. This is deliciously moist, with a sweet tang.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Potato ricer

I am so dense and obtuse when it comes to practical matters - and not only them, often - that I had owned this piece of equipment a month before realising that I could rest it on the saucepan, as illustrated. This feature is helpful, enabling you to feed the ricer several times without spraying bits of mash round the kitchen.

If cooking for more than one person, you'll need to mash your potato in batches, because you get better results if you do not fill the container. Even then, I find, bits of potato seep over the top of the plunger rather than getting pushed through the mesh, and have to be scraped back.

A food mill will cope with larger quantities of potato, while also producing very smooth results. It's more of a nuisance to clean, though.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Pork, lemon, and garlic stew

This recipe appears in my book, Don't Sweat the Aubergine, about which I may have some more to say in the coming weeks. A new, revised edition appears in April from Black Swan.

I haven't revised this recipe, but I might have done. In the book, I suggest that you brown the pork before putting it in the casserole. But, not being submerged in liquid, it may brown to a certain extent while cooking anyway. So this version (serves 2) could not be simpler.

2 slices of boneless belly pork, each cut into about four pieces, or left whole if you prefer
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled.
1 lemon, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 chicken stock cube (optional)
2tbsp olive oil
Salt (remember if you use the cube that it is salty)

Toss the ingredients together in a heavy casserole, and bake, covered. I cooked my stew slowly, at gas mark 1/140C and then at gas mark S/130C, for three and a half hours. I turned down the dial once the stew was simmering, after about an hour and a quarter.

I confess that, after two and a half hours, there was little evidence of the browning I had expected. So I uncovered the casserole. I am reluctant to follow recipes that tell you to brown meat towards the end of the cooking time, fearing that the high temperature will cause the meat to dry out. But in this case, the temperature was low, and belly pork is a particularly forgiving cut. The surfaces of the meat browned in about half an hour, after which I turned it.

The meat, onions and lemon create plenty of sauce, which has a delicious tartness to offset the rich fattiness of the pork.