Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Homemade (Burger) Heaven

 Oh man, how I love the taste of a homemade burger!  Burgers are one of those wonderful things to cook that (almost) everyone - and especially children - loves, plus they are quick and easy to prepare, in fact those same children can help you with the whole shebang.  You know exactly what has gone into them - no nasties - and can vary the recipe however you like, according to your mood/the weather/what's in the cupboard/the day of the week.  While beef burgers are the mainstay of any summer barbecue with us, a midweek special treat for us is these lovely lamb burgers.  They take next to no time to knock up when I get in from the school run with the children feeling somewhat fractious in the heat.

As for the shaping, you can either do it with your own, wetted, hands, or gadgets are available for the purpose.  I have an old, much loved burger press from Lakeland, which I would not like to be without at this time of year (or ever, frankly).  They don't seem to sell the one I have anymore, but still stock a similar product.

Lamb Burgers

500g lamb mince
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp mint sauce (from a jar)
1 tsp olive oil

Rolls, salad and chips or crisps, to serve

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and squidge them together, with your hands, to mix thoroughly.  Divide the mixture equally and shape into burgers (and see above).    Cook on the barbecue. or grill under a moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through and just browning nicely on the surface.  I love them in a toasted bun with spinach leaves and a blob of natural yoghurt.
Cath xx

Monday, 28 June 2010

Life's NOT too short to stuff a pepper..!

At this time of year, I love easy dishes that feel summery and evoke the expansive spirit of barbecues and food al fresco, without all the smoke and soot midweek.  This is very simple, but still very summery. These also reheat very well the next day, should you have any left over (I find that adults usually eat two as a main meal and that children only eat one).  Enjoy them with rice, or salad, or both... it's your call.  Some of you may like a little dollop of soured cream; a blob of guacamole or a dab of houmous to go with.

Meaty Stuffed Peppers

These work equally well with minced lamb, though I replace the kidney beans with chickpeas, lose the oregano and add a teaspoonful of dried cumin for this variation.

2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
250g minced beef (and see above)
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 balls mozzarella, each sliced into 4

Trim the stems of the peppers, then halve them through the remaining stem. Scoop out the seeds and cores and lay, cut-side up in a roasting tin.  Set aside.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and soften the onion with the oregano.  Stir in the garlic.  Add the mince and brown it well, before mixing in the tomato purée and stirring the kidney beans through the pan.  Season to taste.  Pile this mixture into the pepper halves, then top each with a slice of mozzarella.  Bake at 180°c for 20-25 minutes until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted and toasty.  Use a spatula to lift them onto a big plate and serve nicely warm, rather than piping hot. Add some nice bread to mop up the juices, and you're good to go!
Cath xx

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Chocolate Mousse 1 - Football 0

Just as I do with sponge cakes, I think of chocolate mousse in imperial terms.  Not in a neo-colonial way, no, but in as much as the imperial weights and measures just seem to work with certain recipes. For each serving, use one egg and one ounce of chocolate.  A little dash of a carefully chosen flavouring and that's all you need.  Good, simple food at its best!

As far as flavourings for chocolate mousse go, I have tried many, many variations over the years.  Brandy is always my classic fall-back.  Fruity liqueurs work well, as does good old fresh orange juice.  I love mint chocolate mousse, but really good peppermint extracts are few and far between.  I'd be interested to know if anyone has a source...?  Dark rum is nice in the winter (for me, rum is very much a winter flavour) and coffee is an elegant flavour as long as no-one is going to object to a coffee-chocolate mix.  Some people seem to feel inordinately strongly about that; maybe brought on by too many cheap chocolate-covered 'coffee creams' as a child..?

Classic Chocolate Mousse

4 eggs, separated
4oz plain chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp brandy (and see above)

Melt the chocolate in a big bowl.  Let it cool, then stir in the egg yolks, one by one.  This is the point at which to add any flavouring.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then carefully fold the whites into the cooled chocolate mixture.  Pour the mousse into serving pots and chill until set.  I don't usually garnish my chocolate mousse at all; today I used some strawberries from my friend Avril's garden; a few raspberries or a blob of whipped cream with a light dusting of cocoa are equally nice, when the urge for a little lily-gilding comes upon one.

The chocolate mousse was tonight's pudding, following a supper of Chicken, Leeks and Bacon with a Crumble Topping.  Very good it was too, unlike the football result!
Cath xx

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Old Tarts

Still getting back to normal after #operation roof, I'm cooking really 'proper' meals again, but I must admit that the heat is stifling the family's appetite somewhat, not to mention fraying the children's tempers!

Tonight we ate my (immodestly) super Courgette and Goat's Cheese Tart, which was just enough cooking to satisfy my needs, but not too much, if you know what I mean....  This is a regular summer supper for us; it's filling and delicious without being heavy or stodgy in any way.  Really needing very little in the way of accompaniments, it makes a lovely portable dish for a contribution to a picnic or any other communal meal at this time of year  I made the pastry this morning and blind-baked the case so that I only had to fry some sliced courgettes and throw the rest together at five o' clock.  Blind baking is a contentious old thing,and I must admit that I don't usually bother for a midweek meal.  I will, however, confirm that the tart is almost always nicer if you do.  Sorry!  Do be sure to dice, or crumble, any cheeses that you add to the filling of a tart; this avoids the problem of 'cheesy cement' sinking to the bottom of tarts and coming to rest on the pastry case.  Grating cheese over the surface of the egg-custard mixture is, however, fine and dandy.
Cath xx

(In fact, the tart was so good tonight that I'm seriously considering making another tomorrow, for snacking on during the week!)

Friday, 25 June 2010


It's been a while, I know, and the reasons are far too many and varied to go into at length.  Suffice it to say that our bathroom ceiling collapsed during a storm a few weeks ago and, ever since then, we have been busy picking up the pieces - both figuratively AND literally!  Now, however, the roof has been replaced and order is (just about) restored. After what feels like weeks of quick dinners, I'm ready to return, with a vengeance, to the kitchen.  I've missed real cooking terribly and I can't wait to find some more lovely things to share with's nice to be back to writing to you again!

On that note, try this for a midweek supper in the hot weather.  Based on our great lunchtime favourite, this brings a teeny tweak of sophistication to the classic Welsh rabbit.  I can even imagine this being served, to people rather less greedy than us at any rate, as an elegant starter on a 'waffeur-thin' croûte with a delicate side salad. Ha!

Mushroom Rabbits

200g hard cheese, grated (such as a good, strong cheddar)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp plain flour
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, beaten
2-4 tbsp milk 

6 large flat mushrooms

Beat the fisrt 6 ingredients together. Pile onto the mushrooms (gill sides), place on a baking tray and bake at 180°c for 15 minutes until the  mushrooms are tender and filling is slightly risen , browned and bubbling. Pop onto a piece of sourdough toast or a halved ciabatta roll and eat warm, with a salad to accompany.
Cath xx


Related Posts with Thumbnails