Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sweetcorn fritters

Are they fritters or pancakes? I'll be damned if I know.

I wasn't going to post these (hence the terrible photos), but someone on twitter asked if I would - and I'm totally swayed by even the merest hint of flattery - so here you go, people.

The reason for my initial reluctance, is that I fear you all know how to make these aleady and I'm preaching to the converted. I've seen a lot of recipes for them floating around. But then I made a - frankly, Nobel Prize worthy - discovery, which I decided I needed to share with the world. And that is....


Seriously. Toast, spread with a bit of butter, a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon and ay, caramba!

Originaly we ate these with salmon, an avocado and spring onion salady thing, and a bit of crème fraîche. They go great with Mexican/Caribbean/Deep South BBQ style food - jjalapenos, cheese, sour cream, lime, ribs, jerk chicken, all that sort of stuff. Proper feasting.

God, I'm starving again just thinking about it. 

Sweetcorn fritters
Serves 4
2 cups milk
3 cups plain flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
Generous pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups of sweetcorn (I used frozen)
You can add a couple of spring onions into the mix too, but I prefer these separate

Mix together the milk, flour, eggs, seasoning and baking powder and stir until you have a smooth but quite thick batter. Then stir in the sweetcorn (if you're using frozen it might stick together, so make sure to break up any lumps).

Heat a non-stick frying pan to a medium-high heat and spoon the mix into the pan, to make whatever sized fritters you desire. If you have a good non-stick pan you shouldn't need any oil, but if you really need it use a teeny tiny bit - not too much as it just gets soaked up and the fritters get a bit saturated.  Also if they're really oily they might set your toaster on fire the next day (I don't know if that's true but I've got OCD so I want to warn you JUST IN CASE). 

They'll generally need a couple of minutes on each side. They'll look a bit sicky at first, but have faith. Flip them over when they start to go golden, then when they're done keep at a low heat in the oven, whilst you do the rest of the batch. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Salsa verde

I don't think I'm alone in saying this, but...I fucking hate New Year's Eve. Always have, probably always will.

It started at the age of 16; the Millennium. A plan - of hanging around pubs that wouldn't let us in and flirting with boys in baggy trousers - somehow ended with me getting separated from my friends (before everyone had mobile phones) and being sat, at the stroke of midnight, on the steps of The Theatre Royal, sobbing like a beast and trying to convince one of my parents that they weren't too drunk to come and pick me up. I arrived home, an hour or so later, to find them all singing Joni Mitchell at the top of their lungs, and that the cat had pissed on our DIY cardboard millennium dome, which had come free with The Independent. Happy new year!  The following year a friend was seriously unwell once we'd gone out (not even through booze) - so unwell she couldn't walk home - so we spent about three hours in the rain trying to hail a taxi. Another year I was fresh from a festive dumping, dragged out in London, and trying to remember how to smile at potential suitors, when you know you've put on three stone since last attempting it. 

There have of course been some which weren't so bad, if I force myself not to be melodramatic. Those ones were largely based around big meals and going to local pubs, and didn't involve entry fees or public transport.

But it's just all so MEH and so BLEURGH.

As a result of this aversion, my main romantic aspiration in life became to meet a man who would be happy to stay in with me on a New Year's Eve. Being handsome and rich would be a perk, but the NYE thing really was the clincher. And, thankfully, I hit the jackpot two and a half years ago.  Yes, this one does have a penchant for brightly patterned trousers, and a great ability to ignore an overflowing bin, but for the past two years I've been allowed to spend the last evening of the year drinking fizz, eating steak and chips, and taking the piss out of people's dancing on the Hootenanny - and for that I am truly grateful.

And this is what accompanied my steak this year: salsa verde.  In my opinion, the best sidekick for steak there could be. When I lived at home we used to eat very healthily in the week, then the weekends were party time - started off with steak and chips on a Friday. My step dad used to make this salsa verde (although inevitably he'll look at this recipe and go 'that's not how I make it') and it has been a firm favourite ever since.

Don't be a wuss about the anchovies. You can barely taste them.

Salsa verde
Big handful of parsley (about a whole plant from a supermarket), finely chopped
3-4 anchovies, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of chili flakes
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Rapeseed or olive oil (a good slug, about 5tbsp)

There's not much to say, just chop it all up and mix together!  It's not an exact science of a recipe, so if you want it less vinegary or more mustardy or whatever then you know what to do...

Friday, 4 January 2013

Brown bread ice cream


Me. I did. Just in case you're less clever than I give you credit for.

Just think of all the different flavours of obesity I can be! Chocolate obese, strawberry obese, rum 'n' raisin obese. Granted, January isn't the time when most people decide to start necking down the sat fats, but as you know I sit in the 'couldn't give a shit' school of fad diets, all year round, so it works out just fine.  I'll go for a run or something. Sometime. Maybe.

My ice cream maker didn't appear in my stocking as a gleaming hunk of magimix surprise. Oh no. It was part of a long running campaign of subtle hints by me, such as 'I really want an ice cream maker' and 'How about you buy me an ice cream maker' and 'Have you bought me an ice cream maker yet?'. I still didn't expect to actually get one, but the boy came through. He's a good'un. 

Ice cream makers come in two different forms - ones where you put the bowl in the freezer and have to do a bit more manual labour, and ones that have the freezing compartment built in and do everything quicker and more efficiently. Turns out that if you want one of the ones with an inbuilt freezer they're pretty expensive, so a secondhand one is your best bet. Unless, of course, you're totally minted. Ben did a cracking job by buying this one through a charity shop's ebay site, so every time I shove a spoonful in my gob I can think of all the puppies I'm saving. Plus, I don't have to feel quite so bad when it sits in the cupboard for six months at a time.

This was the first attempt with the new toy (actually, it was the second, but we won't talk about the first). I've never had brown bread ice cream before, but it's awesome. I don't understand why none of the big brands do it - it's sort of nutty and biscuitty and it uses up all the old odds and sods of bread you've got lying around. I'm pretty sure you could do it without a machine too, just take it out of the freezer every half hour or so and churn it up, then put it back in again, ad infinitum.

Brown bread ice cream

1 cup double cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp cinnamon (optional)
4 egg yolks
Brown bread crumbs (about 3 slices of bread worth)
1/2 cup of soft brown sugar

Firstly, whisk your egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar, and put to one side.  Then, in a saucepan heat your milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon, to almost boiling point. Once the cream mixture is hot, pour a little at a time into the egg, whisking as you go. Once all incorporated, return to the pan and heat again. Low and slow is the game here - if you have the heat too high then your eggs will scramble or the mix will curdle (if it does curdle you can probably rescue it with a quick whizz in a blender). Heat until it has thickened slightly. Recipes will tell you that it's done when it coats the back of the spoon, so go with that if you like.  Once done, allow to cool fully.

Whilst your custard is cooling, scatter the breadcrumbs and brown sugar onto a baking tray, mixing them together. Heat under the grill until the crumbs are toasted and the sugar has caramelised and gone sticky. It'll only take a couple of minutes and you need to watch it like a hawk. Allow to cool, then break up any big clumps.

When your custard is cool, transfer to the ice cream maker and switch on.  After about ten minutes it should be thickened and starting to freeze. Add in your breadcrumbs and give another five minutes or so, then transfer to a container in the freezer.

As I said, if you're doing this without a machine then you need to freeze the custard for about half an hour at a time and then take out and churn it by hand. But I am guessing at this somewhat, so you might want to google.