Mushroom Stroganoff

If you are a lover of mushrooms then Mushroom Stroganoff is a great recipe for you. I think it works best with mixed mushrooms; whatever happens to be in season. A splash of brandy adds real depth of flavour. Smoked paprika gives a wonderful smokey intensity.

This makes a fine dinner party or special occasion dish. I like to serve it with French Pilau Rice, Petits Pois Frais à la Française and Courgettes and Tomato.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (such as chestnut, portobello, button, oyster, shitake, chanterelles
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 25g butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tbsp dry sheer or dry white wine
  • 100ml vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 100ml cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

  1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water until soft. squeeze out excess water, and retain the soaking liquid. Roughly chop.
  2. Chop the onion, finely chop the garlic.
  3. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into 1/2cm slices.
  4. Heat the butter in a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil.
  5. Fry the onions gently for about 5 minutes until soft.
  6. Add the garlic, sliced mushrooms, chopped porcini, thyme and caraway seeds. Turn the head up
  7. slightly and fry the for a further 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms start to brown.
  8. Add the smoked paprika and fry for a further 30 seconds.
  9. Add the brandy and sherry and flame to burn off the alcohol.
  10. Add the cream, stock and porcini soaking liquid, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  11. Serve scattered with freshly chopped parsley and a really good grind of black pepper.
  12. Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff

If you are a lover of mushrooms then Mushroom Stroganoff is a great recipe for you. I think it works best with mixed mushrooms; whatever happens to be in season. A splash of brandy adds real depth of flavour. Smoked paprika gives a wonderful smokey intensity.

This makes a fine dinner party or special occasion dish. I like to serve it with French Pilau Rice, Petits Pois Frais à la Française and Courgettes and Tomato.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (such as chestnut, portobello, button, oyster, shitake, chanterelles
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 25g butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tbsp dry sheer or dry white wine
  • 100ml vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 100ml cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

  1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water until soft. squeeze out excess water, and retain the soaking liquid. Roughly chop.
  2. Chop the onion, finely chop the garlic.
  3. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into 1/2cm slices.
  4. Heat the butter in a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil.
  5. Fry the onions gently for about 5 minutes until soft.
  6. Add the garlic, sliced mushrooms, chopped porcini, thyme and caraway seeds. Turn the head up
  7. slightly and fry the for a further 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms start to brown.
  8. Add the smoked paprika and fry for a further 30 seconds.
  9. Add the brandy and sherry and flame to burn off the alcohol.
  10. Add the cream, stock and porcini soaking liquid, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  11. Serve scattered with freshly chopped parsley and a really good grind of black pepper.
  12. Mushroom Stroganoff

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I recently found a half-used bag of quinoa pushed to the back of a cupboard. I have never been a great fan of quinoa, but as you know I hate to waste food, so I set myself a challenge to invent a recipe to showcase the ingredient.

These quinoa stuffed peppers are tasty, healthy, economical and quick to prepare (if you use bottled peppers). What more could you ask for!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red and 1 large yellow pepper, or 2 bottled peppers.
  • 85g quinoa
  • 25g mixed seeds: pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • 25g black olives
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil

Method:

  1. If you are using fresh peppers, cut in half (including the stalks)  and remove the seeds and pith. Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Bake until the peppers are soft and partly collapsed – probably about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cover the quinoa with 275ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain off any excess water.
  3. Toast the mixed seeds lightly.
  4. Crumble the feta, chop the tomatoes and olives, shred the basil.
  5. Mix the chopped ingredients into the quinoa, and add seasoning to taste.
  6. Stuff the peppers when cool enough to handle.
  7. Bake at 220C for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool somewhat – I think they are nicest when warm rather than hot.

Serve with rocket and warmed pitta bread.

The peppers are also very good served as a starter.

 

Arancini di Riso

My daughter recently returned from holiday in Milan, raving about the Arancini di Riso.

Arancini di Riso are actually Sicilian in origin: stuffed saffron rice balls, usually filled with meat, mozzarella and peas. As my daughter is a great mushroom lover, I decided to create my own version in her honour. And in all modesty I am mighty pleased with the result.

The name means ‘little oranges’ in Italian, and refers to their shape and colour after cooking. They are quite exacting and time-consuming to make, but the result is heavenly.

I like to serve them with a piquant tomato sauce.

Ingredients (makes 8 arancini di riso):

15g butter

45ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
250g risotto rice
1 pinch of saffron
100ml Pinot Grigio (or other Italian dry white wine)
1l vegetable stock
35g parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
25g carrot, finely chopped
25g celery, finely chopped
150g mixed mushrooms
10g dried porcini mushrooms
15g parsley
50g frozen pea
400g tinned tomatoes
75g buffalo mozzarella
25g plain flour
2 eggs
50g breadcrumbs
sunflower oil fro frying

Method:

  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the 15ml of oil. Add half the chopped onion and sweat for 5 minutes or so until the onion is soft but not browned.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Sauté for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add the saffron and stir again.
  • Add the wine and stir occasionally until it is absorbed.
  • Add the stock, a ladle at a time and stir it into the rice. Allow it to become absorbed before adding the next ladle. The rice is cooked when it is slightly al dente, but NOT chalky. This will probably take about 30 minutes, and might not require all the stock.
  • Stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon juice and allow the rice to cool.
  • While the rice is cooling, soak the porcini in a little hot water. Chop the mixed mushrooms small (duxelles sized), place in the centre of a clean tea towel, gather the corners of the tea towel together, and twist to expel as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible, collecting the liquid in a bowl.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, and add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté gently for about 5 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms from the tea towel into the frying pan. Increase the heat, and sauté for a further 10 minutes or so until the mushrooms start to brown.
  • Drain and chop the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid. Add to the frying pan along with the soaking liquid, and add the liquid squeezed out of the mushrooms.
  • Now add the tomatoes (chop them small if they are whole), peas and half the parsley. Adjust the seasoning, and simmer for about 15 minutes, adding any remaining vegetable stock or water as necessary to prevent the mixture from becoming too dry.
  • Add the remaining parsley and allow to cool.
  • To assemble the arancini, divide the rice into 8 equal portions and shape into balls . Divide the mushroom mixture into 8 equal portions.
  • Take a rice ball and make a hollow in the centre with your index finger. Fill the hollow with the mushroom mixture, and add about 1/8 of the mozzarella. Seal the rice around the mushroom mixture.
  • Dust the ball with flour, and make the remaining 7 arancini the same way.
  • Beat the eggs and add to a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to a separate bowl. Dip each arancini in beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs.
  • Heat a generous quantity of sunflower oil in a deep pan. Deep fry the arancini, a few at a time until golden (about minutes). Drain any surplus oil on kitchen paper.

 

Meat substitutes

During a recent trip to the supermarket, I encountered a promotion for a company specialised in meat substitutes of various kinds (the name of the company translates to ‘the vegetarian butcher‘ in English.)

Normally I try to avoid such promotions and feel a a frisson of excitement if I successfully dodge out of the way. This time it was early in the morning; there was no one else around so I was rather a sitting duck.

The cheerful sales person wearing a green and white apron ( she was also wearing a skirt and blouse) asked me if I realised that 90% of the population eats more meat than was healthy for them. I replied that I certainly did realise now. Then came the inevitable question,: how much and what sort of meat did I eat. I knew that saying I was vegetarian would not let me off the hook.

Indeed, the sales person beamed with delight and said that in that case I must be familiar with vegetarian butcher products, and what did I think of them? My reply that I had never tried them delighted her even more.

Vainly I tried to explain that I was vegetarian because I did not like the taste of meat, so what was the point of buying a substitute for something I did not like?

I ended up persuaded to try a pack of vegetarian minced beef, and a pack of smoked vegetarian bacon lardons. I vaguely toyed of with the idea of dumping them elsewhere in the supermarket in cowardly fashion, but then it came to me: why not road test the meat substitutes and blog my findings! So here we go.

At home I decided to make Spaghetti Bolognese. Unpacking the mince substitute, the first thing that struck me was the colour. Instead of the bright crimson of fresh minced beef, it was unattractive pinky beige strings that  looked like a packet of earthworms. I poked gingerly with a fork and was surprised how bouncy it was.

Then I turned my attention to the bacon substitute. The lardons were perfectly regular solid rectangles of equal size and brown in colour. They were also surprisingly bouncy.

The bacon substitute was £2.99/$3.95/€3.49 for 150g, the mince £2.59/$3.39/€2.99 for 200g. The bacon especially stuck me as quite pricy.

Now to the cooking.

I hard fried 50g of bacon substitute in olive oil. Because it contained no fat it did not reduce in volume significantly, and did not go very brown. I regretted not chopping it smaller.

I repeated with 200g of mince substitute with pretty much the same result.

I browned 1/2 a finely chopped onion, and an equal weight of finely chopped carrot and celery in olive oil.

I added this to a heavy bottomed saucepan along with the meat substitutes, 75ml dry white wine, 150ml water, 20g tomato puree, chopped parsley and 1/2 bayleaf, and simmered the mixture for 40 minutes, then tasted.

The result was not to die for. Taste wise, the flavours had not really mingled, and the smoked bacon substitute was overpowering. But it was the texture that really let it down; it was still really bouncy! Like I had used marinated school rubbers. I added more water and simmered for a further 30 minutes, The result was still disappointing.

I served it with spaghettini, with plenty of fresh parmesan grated over the top, and a good crisp side salad, but none of this disguised the bland flavour and bouncy texture.

My conclusion is, meat substitutes are probably not worth the money. I far prefer my version of Spaghetti Bolognese made wth portobello mushrooms.

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Improve your Favourite Photos for Free

While I am sad at the passing of summer, autumn does bring its compensations, especially for a photographer. I have siezed every opportunity to go out with my camera to try to capture the autumn colours in the soft light.

But I find that I am increasingly less fanatical about getting exactly the right camera settings in terms of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, preferring to concentrate on observing the subject, and compensating or honing the results later in Adobe Photoshop.

The three most common ‘mistakes’ I make are over-exposure, wrong colour balance and tilted horizons. The first two tend to occur after I have been photographing indoors, using a high ISO setting and forgetting to lower it when I go outside, or setting the colour balance to tungsten light, and forgetting to set it back to daylight.

All three ‘mistakes’ can be corrected in Photoshop. But even the very best photographs can still be improved: lightening shadows, increasing or decreasing the contrast, adjusting the colour saturation, increasing the clarity, sharpening the detail, reducing digital noise.

I have recently been going through old rejected photographs, and after improvement, some of them were real gems! And it suddenly occurred to me, perhaps this is a service I could offer my readers.

So, for a limited period, you can send me your digital photographs, and I will improve them for you absolutely free! The only limitation is that it is not possible to improve the focus. Out of focus will remain so no matter what.

  • Attach up to 10 photos and mail them to info@daveggie.com
  • RAW format work best (.cr2 Canon, .nef Nikon), but .jpg can also be improved
  • Pictures taken on smartphones are also eligible
  • If possible, say which make of camera was used (Canon, Nikon, Apple etc)
  • If you want the photo cropping, then give a brief description
  • I will try to mail the improved versions back within 24 hours of receipt

If you would like to see some examples of what is possible, below I proudly present my Rogue’s Gallery of incompetent photographs that I have subsequently improved.

Under Exposure:

Over Exposure

Straightening:

Colour correction:

Lightening shadows to reveal details:

Improve sharpness and clarity:

Perspective correction:

Softening the background:

Cropping:

All-round improvement:

Remove unwanted detail:

Improve the sky:

Mobile phone example:

 

Vegetarian Full English Breakfast Fry Up

Vegetarian Full English Breakfast Fry Up.

A number of my recipes contain tinned/bottled white haricot beans. I love the silky texture in pasta, and mashed they make a great alternative to potato, on their own or say in fishcakes. It is cheaper to buy a 1kg jar, but the trouble is I tend to have quite a lot left, and they do not freeze well, or keep longer than a few days in the fridge.

Anyway, this morning, I decided to eschew my usual breakfast of fruit, and hummus on toast, and turn the leftover beans into homemade baked beans…Well, you know how it is, one thing leads to another, and it ended up as a FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST! And mighty nice it was too, though I am still groaning from the amount of food as I write this.

The Complete Vegetarian Full English Breakfast Fry Up Menu

  • Homemade baked beans
  • Vegetarian Sausages (click for recipe)
  • Grilled Tomatoes
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • Fried Eggs
  • Chunky Garlic and Rosemary Chips (I also had some leftover potatoes in the fridge)
  • Homemade rolls (Mrs DAVEggie likes to keep some in the freezer)

I would recommend saving this for special occasions, as it is a lot of effort, and dare I say has more noughts in the calories than would fit on this page. Unfortunately, such was my hunger and anticipation, I ate the lot without taking a photograph. So it looks like I am going to have to do it all again tomorrow.

As a matter of interest, I looked up other ideas for a vegetarian FEBFU on line, and I can confidently claim that in comparison to what is on offer, the above DAVEggie combination is superior and THE BEST THERE IS. Indeed many of the ideas seemed more like culinary punishment than indulgence, such as a joyless sounding unfried gluten-free vegan version.

Serves 2
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: **
Origin: Britain

Baked Beans

1 tbsp olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle or smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
400g cooked white haricot beans, washed and drained

Method

  1. Chop the tomatoes and garlic.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the tomatoes until they are mushy and the oil has turned orange.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Then add the chipotle, paprika and oregano and fry for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Add the beans and a good splash or water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water as necessary.

Vegetarian Sausages

  • I like to keep a quantity in the freezer.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan which will be large enough for frying 2 eggs as well.
  • Fry the sausages for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, turning frequently so they are nicely browned on all sides.

Grilled tomatoes

  • Cut 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes in half. Sprinkle with salt and brush with oil. Grill for about 5 minutes until the tops are nicely browned.

Sautéed Mushrooms

100g chestnut mushrooms
5g butter
1/6 mushroom stock cube
lemon juice

Method

  1. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms (I reserve these for stock.)
  2. If the mushrooms are larger than about 5cm then cut in half.
    melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan and add about 1 tbsp of water and the stock cube.
  3. Add the mushrooms and a squeeze of lemon juice, add swirl round to coat.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes. The mushrooms should release quite a lot of water which will make a nice mushroomy gravy.

Chunky Garlic and Rosemary Chips

1 garlic clove
50ml olive oil
4 rosemary sprigs
200g cooked or parboiled potatoes

Method

  1. Cut the potatoes into chunky wedges.
  2. Crush the clove of garlic, but do not chop.
  3. Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed frying pan.
    Add the garlic and rosemary to the oil and heat gently until it is
  4. just bubbling. Regulate the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure that the garlic does not burn.
  5. Add the potatoes, turn the heat up to medium, and fry until golden, turning frequently.
  6. If the garlic and/or rosemary should begin to burn, then remove.
  7. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt.

Fried Eggs

  • About a couple of minutes before the sausages are cooked, fry the eggs as you like them. My preference is for a crispy base, white just set on top, and yolk very runny.

To serve

  • Place everything attractively on warmed plates.

To Simplify Things

Use tinned baked beans (shudder) and oven chips.

© DAVEggie

Chilli Recipes – Gazpacho and Piri-piri

I was planning my usual ‘in celebration of autumn’ blog. You know the kind of thing, a wild mushroom recipe, with some photos of woodland scenes with early autumn colours. But in the unusually hot weather my chillies have ripened rapidly, and last Wednesday, when the temperature was 32°C, I decided to make Gazpacho, using some of the chilli harvest.

This year I planted Jalapeno, Serrano, a large mild chilli of unknown variety, and my old favourite Trinidad. Trinidad, as you may remember from earlier blogs, is of species chinense – a habanero type chilli, but with virtually no heat.

Gazpacho, if you did not know, is a chilled soup made from raw vegetables and stale bread from the Spanish region of Andalusia. After puréeing, I like to add some chopped raw vegetables to add a bit of texture. I duly chopped a Trinidad chilli and added it to the soup, but on a whim remembering that Mrs DAVEggie is not quite such a big chilli-head as myself, decided to taste a piece – just in case.

Anyway, once I had stopped frothing at the mouth and my breathing had returned to normal, I began the laborious task of fishing out 90% of the chopped Trinidad I had added. The moral is of course, the heat of chillies can be very unpredictable, so always taste a piece first before adding!

So I present my recipe for Gazpacho, plus another excellent way of using chillies: Piri-piri sauce.

Serves 2
Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 2 hours to chill
Difficulty: **
Origin: Spain
Good with: on its own or as a starter

Ingredients for Gazpacho

200g stale ciabatta, or other white bread
200g ripe tomatoes
200g cucumber
1 green capsicum
1 red onion
1 green chilli – Jalapeno or Trinidad for preference
2 cloves garlic, (peeled)
50ml extra virgin olive oil
25ml red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Skin and de-seed the tomatoes.
  2. Chop the bread, place in a bowl and pour over 100ml of cold water.
  3. De-seed the cucumber and capsicum and chop roughly with the garlic, onion, chilli and peeled tomatoes.
  4. Place in a food processor along with the soaked bread, olive oil and vinegar. Whiz for about 1 minute.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of water to loosen the soup to the desired consistency (it should be quite thick).
  6. Whiz again for a few seconds to mix.
  7. Pour into a bow, and place in the fridge to chill.
  8. Meanwhile, chop some more vegetables of your choice: cucumber, capsicum, fennel, celery, red onion and place in the fridge.
  9. Serve very cold, in chilled bowls. Serve the chopped vegetables separately to sprinkle on top.

Variation

Add sliced Kalamata olives and chopped hard-boiled egg to the chopped vegetable mix.

Piri-piri

This sauce of Portuguese origin gets its name from a type of chilli grown in Africa. It is actually of frutescens species (which is the species used to make Tabasco sauce.) I find any mild red chilli an acceptable substitute (piri-piri chillies are anything but mild!)

The sauce is absolutely delicious and can be stirred into all sorts of savoury recipes. Below I give a couple of suggestions.

Serves lots
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: **
Origin: Portugal
Good in: Portuguese Tuna Rice Bake

Ingredients for Piri-piri

6 large mild fresh red chillies (Serrano would be ideal)
1 tbsp garlic, blanched and chopped
1 tsp salt flakes
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp Chipotle or smoked paprika
½ tbsp paprika
100ml olive oil
50ml red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the chillies on a roasting tray and roast them for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a roasting bag to cool.
  2. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds. (I actually like to add the skins and seeds to the wine vinegar, and warm to just below simmering for a few minutes.)
  3. Place the chillies, garlic, salt, oregano, Chipotle, paprika, olive oil and vinegar (strain if you have added the skins and seeds) in a saucepan, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Allow cool, then purée in a food processor or a staff mixer.
  5. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge and use as necessary. it will keep for several months, but I bet you use it all long before then.

Suggestions for using Piri-piri

Portuguese Tuna Rice Bake

Serves 2
Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: **
Origin: Portugal
Good with: green vegetables

img_1353_portuguese_tuna_portuguese_tuna

Ingredients for Portuguese Tuna Rice Bake

350ml water
175g uncooked white rice
10g butter
20ml olive oil
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tin of tuna, preferably i olive oil
150ml double cream
25ml tomato ketchup
2 tbsp piri-piri
salt and pepper to taste
60g black olives (preferably Kalamata)
60g grated cheese, Gouda, Cheddar or Red Leicester

Method

  1. Bring water, butter, and 10ml olive oil to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
  2. Add the rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying-pan. Add the onion and garlic, and cook  until the onion has softened – about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tuna, cream, ketchup, piri-piri, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low until the mixture thickens – about 5 minutes.
  6. Place half the cooked rice the bottom of 15cm baking dish.
  7. Spread the tuna mixture over the rice and cover with the remaining rice.
  8. Sprinkle the olives and cheese over the top of the rice. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
  9. Bake until the cheese melts and everything is heated through – about 15 minutes.

French Toast – as a lunch snack

  1. Per person, beat 1 egg and 1 tbsp piri-piri together, seasoning to taste.
  2. Place a slice of bread in a frying-pan, and when the bread starts to brown, carefully pour over the egg mixture.
  3. Turn the heat down slightly, and cook until the egg is nearly set through. Turn and cook for 30 seconds more.
    Surprisingly good!
© DAVEggie

Tourte Limousine – French Potato Pie

It is now meteorological autumn in northern Europe, and to celebrate this auspicious occasion, I thought I would present something hearty and comforting: Tourte Limousine.

Tourte Limousine is an attractive recipe from the Limoges region of France: a potato pie, where sliced potatoes are seasoned with melted butter, and when the pie is almost cooked, a mixture of egg, cream and herbs are carefully poured in through a hole in the top. This is not for the faint-hearted, either cooking or eating! Continue reading Tourte Limousine – French Potato Pie