Welcome to the Blend blog! We're a small communtiy food organisation based in Sheffield, England. On our blog we'll try and keep you upto date with the stuff we're doing, share recipes and talk about anything to do with food. Please write on the blog, tell us what you think and what you eat.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Fathers day

So last weekened was fathers day and rather than going out for a meal i thought i'd knock a decent meal up for my dad. I went to town and did a 6 course meal and spent most of saturday in the kitchen making a few tasty treats. With a bit of planning, its pretty easy to put together and worked out cheaper than us going to the pub for sunday lunch. The meal is a mixture of stuff you have to do last minute and stuff that can be prepared well in advance.

The menu was:-
1. Pea and ham soup
Easy to make and can be done well in advance. Sweat of half an onion, garlic, thyme and bay, add 1 small potato finely diced then cover with ham stock. Bring to a boil, simmer till the potato is cooked then add half a bag of frozen peas. Take off the heat after 30 seconds and blend. Serve the soup with some diced boiled ham.

2. Prawns with wilted lettuce and radish

My mum loves prawn cocktail, so this is my take on all the classic flavours you'd assotiate with prawn cocktail. The lettuce is braised with a little lemon, some white wine and a bit of water with some radish thrown in as well. The dressing is natural yogurt, lemon, hendersons relish, paprika, ketchup and the big prawns are simply pan fried.

3. Tomato salad, goats cheese and red pepper sauce.

Dead easy salad with classic meditaranian flavours. I got some interesting tomatoes made a goats cheese moose by blending goats cheese, some cream, basil, some olives and salt and pepper. The red pepper sauce is made by roasting a pepper till its charred on the outside. You then peel it and add it to some sweated onion, garlic, smoked paprika, a little tomato puree and a splash of water and blend it till you have a smooth puree.

4. Pollock with pak choi and a soy, ginger and chilli dressing.

Dead easy, fry some pollock, stir fry some pak choi and mix some soy sauce, water, chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander, lime juice together for the dressing.

5. Duck, beetroot, chard, and a rhubarb sauce

I love duck and this is my take on the whole duck and fruit combo but using some of that bloody rhubarb thats taking over my boarder at the minute.
For the sauce, cook a couple of stalks of rhubarb, a few strips of orange zest, half an onion, a star anise a pinch of sugar. Add some red wine and chicken stock then simmer for an hour or so, then pass through a fine sieve to get out any lumps. This can be done well in advance and does benefit from a night in the fridge.
Boil some fresh beetroot till its cooked, refresh and peel and leave to one side. This can then be heated up when you're ready to serve.
Seal the duck skin side down in a hot pan till you get some good colour. Cook the duck for 6 or 7 minutes (if you like it medium rare like me) in a hot oven (gas 7 / 220c ish) then take out and rest.Now the sauce and beetroot can warmed up, the chard can be wilted in a little butter and the dish can be put together and served. I did a few roasties to go with it too.

6. Mixed berry and cider jelly

Easy desert that is made well ahead and looks stunning.
Boil 160ml of cider with 125g caster sugar, a star anise then leave to cool slightly. Soak 2 gelatine sheets in cold water and add to the cider (take out the star anise). Get some berries and put them into 4 ramekins and pour the cider over the berries. Put into the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. Dip the ramekins into hot water, turn out onto a plate with some more berries and a few sprigs of fresh mint and eat.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fish supper

Fried Gurnard with green beans, tomatoes, courgettes.

Had this for tea tonight, classic flavours and done in less than 10 mins.

Ingredients for 1 portion- 1 gurnard, filleted. 1/2 courgette (sliced thinly), handfull of green beans (tops chopped off), 4 cherry tomatoes (quartered), gem lettuce (3 or 4 leaves) 4 olives (chopped), pinch of chilli flakes, salt and pepper, olive oil, veg oil, 1 clove of garlic.

Method -
Heat a little veg oil, add garlic and chilli flakes. Cook for 1 minute to release flavour then add courgette, green beans and the tomatoes. Cook over a medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the lettuce and olives, cook for 30 seconds then leave to one side.
Heat a bit more oil in a small frying pan and put the fish in, skin side down. Season with salt and pepper and cook the fish for 2 minutes when the skin should be crisp and the fish looked cooked around the edges. Turn the fish over, cook for no more than 30 seconds then turn the cooker off and leave the fish there while you put the veg into a serving dish. Put the fish on top of the veg and drizzle over some olive oil or a nice salad dressing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Your cupboards

Few things i generally try to always have in my cupboard that mean i can generally always knock up a half decent meal.
Extra virgin olive for salad dressings, finishing pasta dishes but never for cooking! Also if you use just for a few bits it will mean you don't spend the same amount as Jamie Oliver must do in his house. The flavour decreases as its heated and in my opinion isn't worth using for cooking with.
veg oil - for cooking with, it also gets to a higher temperature than olive oil so is better for browning food off. 
sesame oil - for stir fries.

Pasta, rice, noodles
Arborio rice - risotto is a great meal that you only need a couple of pans for and can be put together really quickly from scratch. We do a risotto at least once a week, mushroom, squash, pepper, bacon and pea are all good versions.
Basmati rice - to be turned into pilau rice when you have a curry.
Pasta - 1 or 2 of penne, linguine, tagliatelli, lasagne, rigatoni are my personal favourites.
Noodles - egg and rice variety, get em from chinese supermarket just off Bramhall Lane as.

Coconut milk - thai curry's and also try using it in a custard for bread and butter pudding with some passion fruit, you heard it here first!
Tomatoes- pasta sauces, chilli, soup, curry.
Chickpeas - humous, curry's, salads.
Tomato puree
Golden syrup

Erbs and spices
Only dried herbs worth using are bayleaves, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Spices-  chilli (flakes and powder), ginger, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, smoked paprika, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric, cardamon, star anise, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt and pepper

Flour, sugar and bits
Plain, self raising, bread, gram, chapati, corn, baking powder, bicarb, demerera, caster and icing sugars.

Bottles and jars
Brown sauce (for bacon butties), vinegars (one or two of white wine, cider, red wine, balsamic, sherry), fish sauce (thai curries) soy sauce, hendersons, vanilla extract, almond extract, olives, capers, roast peppers, mustard, redcurrant sauce, horseradish sauce, ketchup, mayo, lemon curd.  

Other bits
dried fruit, chicken stock cube, honey, birds custard, tea bags, coffee, lentils (puy and red are best), dried mushrooms (good for risotto), breadcrumbs.

Hope that's useful, if you do choose to give any recipes on here a go it will help if you've got this stuff on hand.

I'll do a freezer list at some point, not as much on that one.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Apple and rhubarb tarte tatin

Well, you can tell its been a bank holiday with 2 posts in 2 days! Just done this for desert to try and use up the load of rhubarb we've got growing in the garden.

For me the french do just about as good a desert as Britain and in my book tarte tatin is up there as one of there best. Its also the sort of desert you can do with very little planning or prep. I've used rhubarb from the garden (which is the easiest thing ever to grow), a couple of leftover apples and a bit of shop bought puff pastry (never make your own, life is too short!). I've done them before with pretty much any firm fruit including plums, pears, peach, pineapple, apricot, quince, mango in the past.

This recipe will easily feed 6 greedy people or 8 less greedy.

Ingredients - 6 or 7 sticks of rhubarb, 2 or 3 apples (cox or braeburn are good) , caster sugar 200g ish, 1 knob of butter, splash of cold water, half a pack of puff pastry, bit of egg wash.

1. Boil sugar, butter and water in a frying pan you can put in the oven, till you have a light caramel then take of the heat.
2. Chop the rhubarb and the apples and put into the caramel.
3. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 50p and put on top of the fruit. Cut a couple of small holes into the top of it.
4. Cook the tarte in a pre heated oven (190c / gas 4 or 5 ) for about 30 minutes.
5. Turn the tarte out onto a chopping board, portion and put a generous dollop of vanilla icecream on top.



picture of yesterdays tagliatelli recipe i posted.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Tagliatelli with mussels, tomato and basil

Decent, tasty, cheap, quick, healthy tea.

You'll need to get the beards off the mussels first and give them a good wash. If they're open and won't close when you tap them, chuck em in the bin. I love pasta and this is a really good combo that works brilliantly.

1kg fresh mussels
1 tin of tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 bunch of fresh basil
1/2 red chilli, diced
1 pepper, sliced.
4 or 5 mushrooms, sliced
1 bayleaf
1 lemon
splash of white wine (optional)
salt and pepper

Heat a little oil, add half the garlic, bayleaf, the mussels and a bit of wine. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and keep hold of the mussel liquor as this will make your pasta sauce very, very decent.

Put a large pan of water on to boil with a generous pinch of salt and some olive oil. When this comes to a boil put the pasta in.

Heat some more oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic, chilli, mushrooms and pepper, Sweat them off over a medium heat till they have softened but haven't coloured. Add the tin of tomatoes bring to a boil then add the mussel liquer. Reduce the sauce till it has thickened slightly. Take the meat from the mussels out of their shells and add to the sauce just to warm through.
By now your pasta should be just about cooked, drain and add this to the pasta sauce along with the basil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve straight away with some decent bread.

This recipe should make 3 or 4 portions.

Give it a go and enjoy!

Chris x