Roasted Tomato Sauce

Where does the time go….?As usual, I’m behind with my Nom Fu obligations. I plead the general contrariness of life. I haven’t stopped cooking – I just stopped remembering to blog about it!

Still, I remembered in time to grab my camera for a foray into the unknown today. The subject of today’s experiment was in fact, driven by necessity. I grew tomatoes this year. They entirely refused to ripen on the plant, and as the days drew in and the weather threatened frost I picked a huge number of green tomatoes and put them in a bowl on the windowsill in a hopeful sort of way. Then I forgot about them. And they ripened.

So I had a large number of ever-riper tomatoes. I am not really much of a tomato user, to be honest. Canned ones in chili and the like, yes. Tomato puree, sure. The odd tomato in a salad, why not. I gave at least half of them away. But over a kilo of super ripe tomatoes that needed to be used right now? Panic…. Then I thought – I know! I’ll make a lovely roast tomato thing out of them, and freeze it, and it will be yummy for soup or chili later in the year. Right? Right!

So with no further ado….

Simplez.

The ‘ingredients’? Just over a kilo of tomatoes. An onion. Some lovely big garlic cloves. Not worthy of a proper ingredients list as this could be more or less anything you fancy – the tomatoes, however, are the point.

I sliced them all in half, cut out that greeny pithy core bit, and popped them into a deep-ish pan. Peeled the garlic cloves and popped them on top. Sliced the onion likewise. Gave it all a sprinkle of salt and a good spray-drizzle of oil, and a few Herbes de Provence for good measure.

The pan then went into a 200C oven for 45 minutes. It came out looking like this:

I put a foil hat on the pan and left it for about half an hour, and then went back and slipped all the tomato skins off. You can just pinch them off at this point. Any that stick, just squeeze the pulp into the pan and discard the skin. Easy. Then decant the whole lot into the container of your choice and have at it with a stick blender. A lot.

Result:

It comes out thick and splodgy, very like a thick ketchup. The flavour, however, I found rather disappointing. Tomato-blah, with an edge of charred onion that should have been rustic and delicious, and sort of wasn’t.

I could add a bit of sugar and vinegar, but then it would be rather ill-suited for use as an ingredient in other things. Still trying to decide what to do with it – I’ll probably bung it in the freezer anyway, simply because it’s a Home Grown Home Made Thing and I can’t quite bear to chuck it away; I expect I’ll ensoupify it later in the year. With the addition of more tasty ingredients, it would make an okay base.

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Chocoranginger Cupcakes

Baking therapy, it’s like retail therapy but less painful for your bank balance and usually with nommier results. However, it is somewhat dependent on whatever you have in your cupboard, otherwise you have to go shopping and then it turns in to retail therapy anyway.

The thing is, given I haven’t done any baking in a while, I was a little understocked in certain areas, and didn’t have all of the ingredients needed to make any of the recipes that I could find.

So naturally my only course of action was to take one of the recipes that I had most of the ingredients for, and then Make Stuff Up.

Ingredients
CAKE
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tblsp cocoa
2 tsp ground ginger
40g butter, softened
50g dark chocolate, melted (I used 70% cocoa)
1 egg
125ml orange juice
30g stem ginger, cut in to small chunks
50g dark chocolate chips

GLAZE
3 tblsp caster sugar
orange juice – enough to make it go to a thick syrupy consistency for drizzling

FROSTING
125g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 tblsp cocoa
3 tblsp orange juice
50g dark chocolate, melted (I used a mix of 90% and 70%)
30g crystalised ginger, cut in to teeny tiny chunks
50g dark chocolate chips, for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and ground ginger. Add the butter and mix until combined. (May require the butter rubbing in to the dry ingredients as the ratio leaves things a bit dry at this point.)

3. Whisk the melted chocolate, egg and orange juice together in a jug.

4. Stir the chocolate mixture in to the flour until just combined.

5. Add the stem ginger and chocolate chips and mix in until distributed evenly.

6. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

7. For the glaze, mix the orange juice and sugar together to form a thick syrup. After the cupcakes have cooled for 10 minutes, and whilst they are still warm, drizzle the syrup over the top. Leave cupcakes to cool completely.

8. For the frosting: Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and stir in carefully. Beat for a further 5 minutes. Beat in the orange juice, melted chocolate and crystalised ginger.

9. Decorate cupcakes with the frosting then sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Outcome rather yummy. Though having attempted the first one with fingers I’d say they definitely benefit from plate/fork approach. Couldn’t really taste the orange, it was overpowered by the ginger. Only had orange juice to hand though, possibly orange zest would bring it to the front a bit more.

August: Awesome Pie

Ok, so this technically isn’t a new recipe for me. But several people have asked for it and in order to get myself back on track as far as monthly posts go, I’m going to go with this – because, well, at one point it was new, and I do have a TARDIS.

This recipe has been in my family for years. Two years to be precise, when I found it on teh intarwebz and adapted it for my own world dominating needs.

Ingredients
Cow bits, some. I usually go for rump steak… possibly about 1.5kg, cut in to chunks
Flour, enough to coat the cow bits
Salt and pepper for seasoning
shallots, about 10 medium sized ones, peeled and chopped in to quarters
button mushrooms
carrots, peeled and cut in to chunks.
garlic puree, 1 tblsp
tomato puree, 2 tblsp
Dark ale or stout, 500ml
Beef stock, 500ml
Fresh thyme, about 3 sprigs
button mushrooms
puff pastry (I get the prerolled stuff from the supermarket)
egg, beaten

1. Mix the salt and pepper in to the flour, then add in the beef and mix it up until the beef is thoroughly coated.

2. In a large hot pan (one that has a lid), brown the beef in batches and set on the side.

3. Add some more oil and add the shallots and carrots and stir for a few minutes. Add the garlic puree and tomato puree. Add the ale. Enjoy the bubbles.

4. Turn the heat down and return the meat to the pan, mixing everything together thoroughly. Add the beef stock and stir some more.

5. Add the thyme and button mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 170C (or whatever your pastry instructions suggest). Transfer to pie dish and top with pastry. Brush egg over pastry to glaze.

7. Put in oven for about 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

July: Quite Nice Carrot Cake

I found a recipe called Yummy Scrummy Carrot Cake – how could I possibly not try and make it?

Ingredients
CAKE
175g light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated carrots (about 3 medium)
100g raisins
grated zest of 1 large orange
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg

FROSTING
175g icing sugar
1½-2 tbsp orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.

3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients until combined and evenly distributed through the mixture. The mixture at this point will be fairly soft and runny and look an awful lot like vomit – try not to be disturbed.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack.

5. Mix together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth – the icing should be about as runny as single cream, this will require a lot of adding a bit more icing sugar, then a bit more orange juice, oh no, too much, a bit more icing sugar then… until you get bored. Set the cake on a serving plate and make a mess of the kitchen whilst trying to drizzle the icing across it in an attractive diagonal pattern.

All in all this was quite nice, but not the yummy scrummy that had been promised. It was very light for carrot cake, which was nice, but all the guinea pigs were disappointed by the lack of cream cheese frosting. If I make it again, and I might, because it was quite nice, I’d probably go with cream cheese.

Pork & Apple Pie

Chilly grey weather means PIE!

Actually, what happened was that I had pork shoulder in the fridge, and no desire to make chili. (Makes a change!) So I improvised, rummaged in the fridge, found some things, and made up a pie.

Ingredients:
500g diced pork shoulder
2 large carrots
1 large onion
1 medium Bramley apple
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 pint ham stock (I used a cube -feel free to use homemade pork stock if you have it!)
couple tbls flour
salt & pepper
1 package pastry for pie crust (or make your own, if so inclined). I used shortcrust but puff would be good too.

Method:
* Peel and chop carrots into large chunks
* Peel, core and chop apple into small dice

* Peel and chop onion
* Sort diced pork and cut into same-sized chunks
* Pop the flour, salt and pepper into a big ziploc bag (or similar). Add the pork and shake it all about to coat the pork thoroughly.

* In a large saucepan with a fitting lid, heat a little oil and fry the pork – in batches if necessary – until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

* Add a little more oil to the pan if required and fry the onion til translucent.
* Add the apple and carrots and fry a couple more minutes
* Add in the pork and stock and stir well.

* Lay the herb sprigs on the top, put the lid on the saucepan and turn down the heat.
* Let simmer for half an hour, then take out the herbs and stir well.
* Continue to simmer for another 1.5 hours or so, stirring every so often to make sure nothing burns.
* At this point you can a) nom this as a stew, b) let cool and freeze portions, c) make a PIE!

To pie-ficate:
* Put the nommy meat mixture in a pie dish
* Cover with a pastry lid
* Cook accordingly (usually about 25 mins at 190C or so)

Pie, but not as we know it.

OK so it looks like hell, but you know what? It was delicious.

I also had pastry left over, so I made a couple of little ham and gruyere pockets. Perfect.


Nom.

June: How to get the husband to eat fish

So, the husband hates fish. Hates it. Unless he’s stabbed it himself whilst diving – in which case it’s just about fresh enough to be tolerable. Unfortunately I don’t dive and am more likely to stab myself than whatever I’m aiming at if given a sharp implement. So I paid some men to stab a fish for me and cooked it on the same day. The hubby said he’d at least try whatever I cooked up…

Ingredients
1 extremely large cod fillet, cut down to 2 nice sized steaks.
1 chili
3 spring onions
2 stalks of lemongrass
2 tblsp creme fraiche
1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 170C

2. Chop the chili and spring onions and put in a bowl. Add the juice and zest of the lime and mix thoroughly.

3. Make a small foil parcel for each fish steak. Add a lemongrass stalk to each and then place the steaks on top.

4. Add the creme fraiche to the chili mixture, stir well, then divide between the parcels.

5. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes.

6. Serve with vegetables and stuff.

And, in the end, hubby not only ate it, but said it was lovely 🙂

May, no really it is: Beef and Brocolli Pasta Thing

This is a great one for when quick and easy but nommy food is needed. It only takes about 15 minutes total.

Ingredients
Pasta (100-150g per person)
rump steak
brocolli
Boursin (the peppery one works particularly well)

1. Put the water on to heat for the pasta.

2. Slice steak in to thin strips. Chop brocolli in to small pieces.

3. When the water is boiling, put the pasta on to cook.

4. Put some oil in another pan. Once hot, add the beef and stir fry until just starting to brown. Add the brocolli. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the boursin. Stir until boursin is melted.

5. Drain pasta and then add to beef and brocolli.

6. Mix thoroughly and serve.

7. Nom!

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