How to cook toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich

toasted-cheese

Ok, here’s another easy one I just wanted to knock off my list of recipes for Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. It’s a toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich, instead of the chilli relish I used a tomato chutney and boy is it a great combination. I’m glad I tried it, even if it was one of the simplest recipes in the book. Delia calls it “a vegetarian version of Croque Monsieur”.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook pork sausages braised in cider

pork-sausages-braised-cider

Yesterday I cooked two recipes for dinner for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge – Pork sausages braised in cider with apple and juniper, and Perfect mashed potato.

Basically you brown the sausages and onions and apples separately , then you combine them together and stew them in a casserole dish on top of the stove. It took about half an hour prep time, and then an additional one hour stewing, so this isn’t a quick after work dish.

Matt adjusted the pan as it wasn’t sitting on the hob properly in the center. I had to take the lid off to boil some of the liquid off and thicken up the cider sauce.

I boiled two potatoes to have as a side and mash them with a cool device which looks like a spiral on the end of a masher. (I don’t know what it’s called but it works a treat.) I added cream instead of crème fraîche because I couldn’t find any in either Coles or Woolies.

The highlight of the dish was the lovely apple and cider gravy. It was nice but I wouldn’t cook it again. The mash was delicious based on cream, but again a bit of treat since rice milk works just as well without the guilt.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook chocolate and almond crunchies

chocolate-almond-crunchies

The next recipe for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Chocolate and Almond Crunchies. I was a little disappointed in how these turned out.

The uncooked biscuit mixture was yummy to taste so I had high hopes.

When I lifted the first batch out of the oven and off the baking tray, half of them crumbled and fell apart. So to remedy the second batch I decided to add some water to the remaining mixture. This was a big mistake because when they came out of the oven they had melded and ran into each other resulting in one big biscuit instead of nine!

The key I think is in the instructions which tell you to let them cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet. This is when they harden up. Oh I forgot, I also put in double the amount of chocolate to make them extra rich and just to use it up. Perhaps that was also a mistake.

Overall a nice biscuit but the instructions need to be followed to the T. There are two variations in the book, so I may give them another go.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook Croque Monsieur

croque-monsieur

OK so Croque Monsieur is basically just a flash ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Delia says it reminds her of the cafes in Paris and that it is “one of the nicest snack meals for one that I know”.

It’s an easy recipe, so I thought I’d knock it off my list of recipes on the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. I didn’t use grated Parmesan on the outside of the sandwich as I like to keep our sandwich press clean. Instead of Gruyere I used cheddar cheese. It hardly needs a recipe. A quick and easy meal for when you are in a hurry and lacking inspiration.

There are a couple of other people doing cooking challenges, so pop over to their website and cheer them on:

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli

delia-spaghetti-olive-oil

The second recipe I cooked for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli. Now if you look closely at the photo you may think that’s a lot of chilli, but actually since I’m allergic (well, intolerant) to chilli I used capsicum instead.

I’ve cooked pasta plenty of times before but I read Delia’s instructions and followed them as closely as I could. One thing I have stopped doing is salting the water, as we doesn’t like much salt in our diet. But in this instance I did and didn’t really notice any difference. I made enough pasta for one for lunch today. I got garlic all over my fingers, but I don’t mind the smell.

I was tempted to test the pasta by seeing if it would stick to the wall when it was al dente, but I’ve recently cleaned the tiles above the stove top so I gave it a miss. I don’t want to clean them again so soon! Anyhow, Delia says the “only real way to tell is to taste it.”

So that I only had one pan to clean up I slightly deviated from Delia’s instructions. I cooked the pasta first and then made the sauce in the same saucepan, while the pasta drained in the sink.

I love Delia’s instructions on how to eat spaghetti and other long pasta. I pretty much do what she suggests, but the olive oil dripped down my chin! Sometimes I like to use a fork to twirl the pasta around on the bottom of a spoon. I think it’s authentic, but perhaps that’s a myth.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

Learning how to cook with Delia Smith

delia-smith-retro

I’ve always wanted to be a good cook so I’ve decided I am going to work my way through Delia Smith’s Complete How to Cook. The book was originally published as three separate volumes with an accompanying TV series. It was released as one complete book in 2009 to celebrate 40 years of writing recipes.

Delia has sold an impressive 21 million cookbooks worldwide, producing more than 20 recipe collections and spent over 30 years on our screens. Delia has a way of explaining complex instructions that make you understand what she means, which is perfect for beginner cooks like myself.

delia-smith-now-then

Photo: BBC

“Delia’s genius is to understand what Middle England wants to eat at any given time, and then nudge it just very slightly forward in a way that seems fresh and exciting rather than strange and intimidating” says Clarissa Dickson Wright in “A History of English Food”.

She continues “Delia’s other great skill is in being straightforward and comforting….. What’s more her recipes work – hence the 1980s joke along the lines of “I danced with a man who danced with a girl who had failed with a Delia Smith recipe”.”

Mary Berry says Delia’s “recipes were inspirational, effective and always worked.”

Delia’s Complete How to Cook was voted as the best recipe book ever published (The Daily Telegraph/www.OnePoll.com). The book has over 700 pages, 350 recipes and step-by-step photography. There are 25 less recipes than in the originals (Delia’s How to Cook One – 137 recipes; Delia’s How to Cook Two – 120 recipes and Delia’s How to Cook Three – 118 recipes). 

I’m going to pace myself and try to complete a couple of recipes each week, so it will probably take me a few years to complete! I’m looking forward to trying lots of new recipes and new techniques with the ultimate aim of finally learning how to cook.

Delia's Complete How to Cook: Both a Guide for Beginners and a Tried and Tested Recipe Collection for Life

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Book review: Not Quite Nigella by Lorraine Elliot

Lorraine Elliot’s blog Not Quite Nigella is one of the more popular food blogs coming out of Australia. She’s a prolific poster and it’s no surprise that she would write a book about her path to happiness through baking and blogging. Fortunately she did not use a diary style, which some bloggers use when they write a book.

She talks about meeting her “cooking mother” Nigella Lawson (whom the blog is named after). She also writes about going to prison to see how they do their catering, and volunteering to cook for charity. We aren’t talking about any ordinary food blogger here. Lorraine seems to go the extra mile to get a story, and she’s been blessed with some interesting travel stories.

Not Quite Nigella shot to stardom when Lorraine created a pizza which featured Obama’s head for his inauguration. The picture then appeared on the home page of Sydney Morning Herald and Serious Eats. Perhaps the secret to Lorraine’s success is partly her advertising background, coupled with sheer hard work.

Lorraine also talks about some of the pitfalls of blogging, including lessons learnt about threats of copyright and defamation lawsuits. The book is an entertaining and awe-inspiring read about a successful food blogger. I was engaged enough to read the book in one sitting.

Recommended for aspiring bloggers.

Not Quite Nigella – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Lorraine Elliott

What is a bouquet garni?

peppermint-leaves

A bouquet garni is a french cooking technique for a bundle of herbs tied together with string. It adds flavour and aroma to a dish.

Cooking School Provence says:

A bouquet garni should include a minimum of three herbs or aromatic vegetables, but you can use as many as you like. Add bouquet garnis to stews, roasts and pot roasts at the end of the preparation stage, just before the main cooking starts. Remove and discard the bouquet garni before serving.

There are three main steps to preparing a bouquet garni:

  1. Select a good base with a 4 to 7 cm segment of either celery, fennel or a leek leaf. Alternatively you can use a small square of muslin cloth. 
  2. Add herbs to the bundle. 
  3. Wrap the herbs up in the base and tie up the bundle with a piece of kitchen string. Le Cordon Bleu recommends you “leave a long tail to the string for easy removal”. Some chefs tie the bundle to the pan handle.

Variations

  • classic base: parsley and a bay leaf or thyme
  • meat dish: add celery and rosemary
  • chicken or pork dish: celery, rosemary with tarragon or sage
  • fish dish: fennel, thyme, dill and a bay leaf

Multimedia

Book review: What Katie Ate

what-katie-ate

What Katie Ate is a visually stunning cookbook. The majority of the recipes have a full page colour photograph, along with first class retro styling.

We cooked two recipes – Barbecued ginger ale pork ribs and Sheila’s retro beef curry (circa 1974) – both packed with flavour. You may be tempted by pulled pork sandwich with apple cider slaw, Beef and Guinness Pie, rhubarb franigpane tart, mini raspberry and chocolate meringue kisses.

what-katie-ate-sliders

The book covers a good selection of recipes, including breakfasts, lunches, salads, canapes and drinks, dinners, sides and sauces, and desserts.

The only downside is that the typewriter font (Trixie) is hard to read.

what-katie-ate-pie

What Katie Ate – buy on Amazon.com
What Katie Ate – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Katie Quinn Davies

How to make a hay box

Hay box cooking was popular during World War II when fuel was rationed. It is a way to save energy by turning off the oven or burner just before the food is completely cooked, and the allowing your food to continue cooking in a hay box. The lid of your pot needs to fit tightly to keep the heat in.

  • You will need a box made from plastic or metal. Fill it with dry hay
  • Cook your food in the usual way until it is hot but not completely cooked.
  • Turn off the heat, then quickly place the pot or pan into a hay box on a layer of straw. Make sure you cover the pot with more hay and seal the lid.
  • Leave for a few hours while your food continues to cook in your insulated homemade oven. Plan well ahead – the normal cooking time for this method is 4-5 hours, though it varies greatly depending on what you’re cooking. Experiment, but make very sure that any meat is fully cooked through.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century
– by Dick and Jack Strawbridge

Has anyone tried hay box cooking?

Do you think you could use sugar cane mulch?

Would you recommend cooking meat this way?