Monday, April 11, 2011

Food from the British Isles

For March we feasted on food from the British Isles. It was delicious! We are also welcoming two new members to the cooking club - Bonnie & Linda.

The Curious Cooks (Front row - Linda & Bonnie S; Back row - Lyra, Madelynne, Amanda, Bonnie F, & Janna)

Linda's Leek & Potato Soup

Leek and Potato Soup
2 leeks
340g/3/4lb potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
30g/1oz butter
570ml/1 pint water
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml/31/2fl oz milk
100ml/31/2fl oz double cream
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

Preparation method

1. Trim and slice the leeks in thin rounds. Rinse in a colander under cold water.
2. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.
3. Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion and garlic.
4. Add the leek, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Season.
5. Cover with the water and bring to the boil.
6. Simmer for 12 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are tender.
7. Remove the bay leaf.
8. Just before serving add the milk and cream and stir over a low heat, check the seasoning.
9. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with the chives.

Serves 4

Bonnie S's Pasta & Mushroom dish

Pasta And Mushrooms Baked With Two Cheeses
Ribbon noodles are fun to fork up in this delicious supper dish. The creamy mushroom sauce is enriched with egg.
Stilton cheese is marvellous for cooking, and gives a very distinctive flavour to the mushroom sauce in this pasta dish. Mozzarella, used here for the topping, is a famous Italian cheese, which is now also being made in Britain . It is deliciously creamy when melted.
SERVES 2 - 3
225 g (8 oz) ribbon noodles
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 garlic clove, skinned and crushed
225 g (8 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
50 g (2 oz) Stilton cheese
60 ml (4 tbsp) fresh double cream
salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
100 g (4 oz) mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 7 minutes, until just tender.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and mushrooms, stirring frequently, until just softened. Crumble in the Stilton cheese and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Stir in the cream and season to taste.
3. Drain the pasta and season with lots of pepper. Mix into the mushroom sauce. Stir in the egg and mix together thoroughly.
4. Turn the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish and grate the mozzarella on top. Cover with foil and bake at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake at 220°C (425°F) mark 7 for a further 10 - 15 minutes, until brown and crusty on top.

Bonnie F's Irish Soda Bread
 Irish soda Bread


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons milk (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Use fingers or a pastry cutter to press in butter or margarine, like a pie crust. When mixture looks fine and crumbly, add raisins and caraway seeds. Mix together and then add eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream. If mixture is not moist, add milk. Pour into two greased and lightly floured loaf pans or a frying pan.
  2. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.

Bonnie F's mouth watering English trifle. (It definitely did not taste like feet)

Lemon Curd for Trifle:


  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed


  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from whisk, and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.
Madelynne's Baked Onions
Baked Onions with Nut Stuffing

Choose onions that are hard, with no obvious soft spots, and avoid any that are showing signs of sprouting. Although raw onions are known for their pungent smell, when cooked they have a mild, sweet flavour which contrasts well with the cheesy stuffing.


4 large onions, each weighing 225 - 275 g (8 - 10 oz)
150 g (5 oz) long-grain brown rice
salt and pepper
50 g (2 oz) hazelnuts
50 g (2 oz) salted peanuts
225 g (8 oz) tomatoes, roughly chopped
100 g (4 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried basil
1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) dried oregano
5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

1. Boil the onions in their skins for 45 -50 minutes, until very tender. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Meanwhile, cook the rice in plenty of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well.

3. Put the hazelnuts and peanuts on a sheet of foil and cook under a grill until brown, turning frequently. Leave the skins on the hazelnuts and finely chop with the peanuts.

4. Mix the tomatoes with the rice, cheese, nuts, herbs and turmeric and season to taste.

5. Slice off the tip and root of each onion, but leave on the coloured outer skin. Down one side of each onion cut through to the centre from tip to root. Ease the onions open.

6. Divide the stuffing between each onion, pressing it well into the centre.

7. Place in a roasting tin, cover and bake at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Amanda's Chicken & Broccoli Pie
  Chicken & Broccoli Pie
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced
4 chicken breasts
1 head of broccoli, split into florets (or 1 leek, which are also fabulous at the moment, sliced)
1 tbsp flour
300ml chicken stock
Slug of double cream

Grab a heavy-based casserole or frying pan, pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil, then throw in the carrot, onion and celery.  Fry gently until the vegetables soften, then add in the cubed chicken breasts.  A sprinkle of thyme would be lovely here, unfortunately I managed to kill mine.  Season well and continue to fry until the chicken starts to go opaque (it doesn’t need to be cooked through), then sprinkle over the tablespoon of flour.  Carry on stirring while you pour in the chicken stock and add in a big slug of double cream:

Now leave the chicken on a low heat to bubble gently and reduce a tiny bit while you quickly blanch some broccoli in some boiling salted water and make the pastry.

Now just drain the broccoli and add into the chicken.  Don’t worry if there seems to be a bit of excess liquid as some will disappear during cooking.  Now just roll your pastry lid over your rolling pin and unroll it over the top of your pie.  Because I’m lazy, and let’s face it, this is just home cooking, I just leave it in the casserole and fling the pastry lid on top, tucking over the edges, but if you’re entertaining or whatever, you can put the contents into a pie dish and neatly crimp the edges, brushing with a little milk to glaze the top.
And that’s it.  Bung the pie in the oven at gas 4/180 for 20 – 30 minutes until it’s golden brown, and serve with more seasonal vegetables (we had honey roasted parsnips, carrots, peas and creamy mashed potato), then just sit back and bask in the glory especially reserved for people who make their own pies. 

Lyra's Crab Salad

Crab Salad

When dressing crab, exert full pressure with thumbs to prise claws from body.

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
15 ml (1 tbsp) mayonnaise
15 ml (1 tbsp) natural yogurt
225 g (8 oz) crab meat
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, skinned and cubed
50 g (2 oz) pasta shells, cooked
lettuce, shredded
cucumber and lemon slices, to garnish

1. Mix together the lemon juice, mayonnaise and yogurt.

2. Combine the dressing with remaining ingredients, except the lettuce. Serve the crab salad on a bed of shredded lettuce, garnished with cucumber and lemon slices, accompanied by brown bread and butter if liked.
Janna's Beef Wellington
Serves 6

1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g butter
2 lb (900 g) beef fillet
2 large onions, sliced
1 1/3 cup (100 g) mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 pinch of thyme
1/2 level tsp salt
black pepper
14 oz (397 g) packet of puff pastry, thawed
a little beaten egg (to glaze)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) gas mark 7.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the meat and fry quickly to brown, turning occasionally to seal in the juices on all sides. Lift it out and allow to cool.
3. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle measuring about 14 x 16 in. (35 x 40cm), though this size may vary slightly with the shape of the piece of beef.
7. Set the beef in the centre of the pastry and place the onion and mushroom mixture on top.
8. Cut a 1 1/2 in. (3.5cm) square from each corner of the pastry and keep on one side.
9. Fold up the pastry around the meat, turning up the ends first and then the sides, which should just overlap the meat to cover it completely.
10. Dampen the pastry with water or beaten egg where it overlaps so that it remains secure during cooking.
11. Turn over, place on a baking sheet and brush the top with beaten egg.
12. Cut the remaining pastry into leaf shapes and use to decorate the top. Brush with more beaten egg.
13. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour if you like beef to be pink in the centre.
Serve at once.

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