Thursday, 21 July 2011

American Southern-Style Biscuits

I must confess, i do rather like some of the things to come out of the states, food wise. One thing that many British people can't relate to, however, is 'biscuits and gravy'. Maybe its the usage of the word 'biscuit' and how each country uses it to mean different things. An American Biscuit is actually pretty close to a savoury scone, but not quite as thick and doughy. This recipe is ludicrously simple, consisting of only 6 ingredients. This recipe is for the biscuits on their own - i'll upload the sausage gravy recipe later.

You will need the following ingredients:

250g (9oz) of Plain White Flour
125g (4 1/2 oz) of Chopped Salted Butter
8 fl oz of Buttermilk
4 level teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt

Utensils needed:

Food Processor (If you don't have one, get one!)
Baking Tray
Palette Knife

First, preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350° Fahrenheit / 180° Celsius). Take your baking tray, and grease it with by pouring a 50p sized drop of oil onto it, then spread around the tray with a piece of folded kitchen paper. Once greased, drop a heaped teaspoon of plain flour onto the tray, and shake the tray around until the base is totally covered. Shake off any excess flour into your sink or bin.

Take your measured flour, and add the Baking Powder, Baking Soda and the Pinch of Salt to it. Sift into the food processor carefully. Add the chopped butter to the flour, and turn on the food processor. Within seconds, you'll end up with a lovely crumb mix.

 While the food processor is still running, slowly dribble in the buttermilk. If you end up with a dough 'ball' forming whilst you're pouring in the buttermilk, stop pouring and simply turn off the food processor, cut the dough ball up with a knife, and turn the food processor back on again so you can continue pouring. You should then end up with a lovely smooth, creamy dough.

That's the dough done, made, finito. See? Easy! Now, to decant the dough, take a heaped dessertspoon of dough, and simply drop onto the baking tray. This amount of mixture is usually enough for two tray loads.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. The time it takes to cook these, is just enough for you to cook some bacon, or some sausage, and the gravy to go with it. When they come out of the oven, they should look a little something like these:

Then all you have to do, is serve them with something - in my case, i chose sausage gravy, and some crispy grilled belly pork:

Just goes to show, tasty food doesn't have to be difficult, or take long! Like i mentioned earlier, i'll post up the recipe for sausage gravy a little later. 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

1970's Flashback - Prawn Cocktail

...or shrimp cocktail, if you're from the United States! Most people have by now experienced prawn cocktail at least once in their lives, but its never considered something that's easily made in the privacy of your own kitchen. A lot of that stems from the uncertainty that surrounds shellfish, and the implication of undercooking it. Luckily, prawns are fairly forgiving if prepared correctly.

So get ready to relive the 70's with this easy, and most importantly, moorish recipe!

Technically, it serves two people for a starter, or for a main course, one very fat person. *ahem* :D

You will need the following ingredients:

200g (7oz) of Frozen, Peeled Prawns (you can use langoustine, lobster or crab as a variation if you prefer)
Tomato Puree
Lemon Juice

Utensils needed:

Sharp Knife
Small Saucepan
Chopping Board
Pyrex Bowl
Metal Strainer or Colander

It's imperative that your frozen prawns are left to defrost properly for a few hours, so there are no ice crystals left. If they're defrosted, take your saucepan and 3/4 fill with boiling water. Put it on a high heat so the water KEEPS BOILING. This is very important! Now, with the water boiling, add all of the prawns, and turn down the heat to a simmer.

While the prawns are boiling, you have enough time to chop up your lettuce and tomato. I find it easy to use baby-gem lettuce, as they're succulent, and easily dealt with. You want your tomato to be chopped pretty finely, if you can manage it, you don't want to be left with large chunks of it in your cocktail! Place this in whatever you're serving it in, be it a bowl, or individual serving glasses. You should end up with something that looks like this:

Now, by now, your prawns will be bubbling away nicely. Look to see if the prawns are bubbling up to the surface, and sinking back down again. It should look something like this:

If so, take them OFF the heat. Drain the water off with the strainer, and refill the pan with COLD water. Add the prawns in your strainer back into the pan and leave them for a minute. This stops the cooking process, and prevents the prawns from becoming rubbery. To make the marie rose sauce, take a dessertspoon of mayonnaise, and add to your Pyrex Bowl. Add a half a teaspoon of tomato puree on top. You should end up with this:

Now, remember this is a guideline, based on the amount of prawns involved. If you've substituted the prawns for crab, langoustine or lobster, vary the amounts, but try and keep the ratio roughly the same, otherwise you'll throw the taste off one way or the other. Add a splash of lemon juice, and a dusting of paprika. Mix thoroughly, until you end up with a smooth, pink tinted sauce like this:

Now, strain the prawns from the cold water, and decant them into the bowl you just made the sauce in. Stir through gently with a spoon, you don't want to massacre the prawns! The same applies for any substitutions you make, keep the flesh intact as much as you can. I use a metal spoon and 'scoop' in a clockwise position around the edges of the bowl. The end result should look like this:

Looks nice, doesn't it? Well, then the obvious final step, is to add this to the salad you just made - simply place it on top, and serve. You can add a dash of paprika on top for an added flare if you like, although i prefer it just as is. 

See? Simple when you know how! Thats all for this week folks :)