Courgette & ginger turkey burgers.

SAM_1944

I’m butter’s biggest fan.  It’s no secret.  Well, not since my waistline decided to advertise the fact.  My road to summer is going to be one filled with salad and fruit.  Yes, I’m going to do my best to eat better, so that I can spend my summer days eating in true Last Piece of Cake style.  I’m still going to post recipes that hit the right spot, but just to mix things up, check out what’s been on my menu recently.

I’m sharing a recipe that has a real summer freshness about it and I think I’ll be rustling up these courgette and ginger turkey burgers while the sun’s out.  Okay, it’s not a peanut butter or chocolate fest and you won’t find any melted cheese around, but trust me when I say that these burgers will take you down to flavour town.

Courgette & ginger turkey burgers

500g turkey mince

1 courgette (chopped)

1 egg

1 red onion (quartered)

1 garlic clove

thumb-sized piece of root ginger (peeled)

3 tblspoons dark soy sauce

1 tspoon chili flakes

It couldn’t be easier.  Put everything except the turkey mince in a food processor and blitz to a puree.  In a bowl, pour the puree over the turkey mince and combine everything thoroughly; I use my hands for this part.

The water content of the courgette is high, so you may find that the mixture is not very firm.  I used a large spoon to drop the turkey burgers into a frying pan containing hot oil; the mixture was too loose to handle.  It’s easy to shallow fry these burgers and press them flat with a fish slice once they’ve been turned once.  Towards the end of cooking, press them firmly to release excess moisture.  They only take a few minutes each side and you can get around ten little patties out of this recipe.  They’re great with a crisp salad or in buns with mayo and sweet chili sauce.

My cookies are the best…on this street.

It’s true.  My tummy said so…and my tummy’s bigger than your tummy!  Granted, England isn’t known for its cookies and most of the population over forty would probably choose tea and cake over milk and cookies.  There will be countless more across the pond who no doubt will stand up and be counted for coffee and donuts.  However, what I’m sharing with you today is nothing less than my ultimate, works-every-time, so-easy-to-make, can’t-wait-till-they’re-out-of-the-oven recipe.  I’ve tried so many recipes over the years and often been disappointed.  That’s why I decided to combine the best bits of every recipe I’ve tried to make these beauties.

The dough recipe is nice and easy, but the best part is that once you’ve got the dough recipe, you can make any type of cookie you want.  That’s why I love these.  Today I’ve made a batch that give a little tip of the hat to my favourite biscuits, dark chocolate gingers.  I have quite a thing for them and I’ve had to stop buying them lest I begin to resemble one.

You, dear friend of food, can load up your cookies with whatever takes your fancy.  I’m sure you have your own amazing cookie dough recipes and it’s likely that they will make my attempts look like My First Cookies, but let me tell you, when I’m going for an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk (and I do so far too often), these cookies are the perfect partner!

What’s your favourite type of cookie?  What should I put in my next batch?

Dark chocolate & ginger cookies

300g plain flour

215g light brown sugar

200g dark chocolate (chopped into little chunks)

170g melted butter

120g caster sugar

120g glace ginger

1 egg

1 yolk

1 tblspoon vanilla extract

1 tspoon ginger powder

1 tspoon salt

half tspoon bicarbonate of soda

Beat together the egg, yolk, butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla and combine with the soda, salt, ginger powder and flour to form a thick dough.

Tip in the chocolate and the glace ginger (or whatever ingredients you are using) and work them into the dough with your hands.  Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Break off small chunks of dough, roll them into balls and press them between your palms so that you have little pucks to place on your baking tray.  The cookies will flatten and spread out in the oven, so leave enough space between them.  They’ll be done in less than ten minutes.

For years I made brittle, crumbly cookies.  It was because I used to bake them until completely brown all over (thinking that they were done).  For perfect, chewy cookies, however, it’s important to take them out of the oven to cool while they are still soft.  Wait until they are beginning to brown at the edges and then use a fish slice to transfer them to a wire rack.  They will firm up once cooled.

Enjoy and let me know how they turn out!

 

Folklore in the kitchen.

It has been one heck of a Christmas and believe me when I say that it is highly unlikely that anyone in the Northern Hemisphere was the recipient of more chutney than me.  I’m in the enviable position of needing more and more things to put the chutney on.  Spicy tomato chutney vies for my attention with rich, roasted flavours and a chilli kick. Pear and honey chutney jumps out with sweetness and subtlety.  What to do?  Decisions, decisions.  It gets tougher still:  good friends presented me with a chutney packing a real punch.  A chutney simply known as Folklore–  chunky, fruity and full of depth from the dark, yet noble real ale that it is made with.  It is formidable to say the least.

Cast into this fruit-filled arena a newcomer, an unknown from the cupboards of a kitchen in the north of England.  It was time to make my own chutney, one that I would be proud of, one that I could share with you and my family at Christmas.  I’m very happy with what I came up with.  It contains all of the flavours that I love at Christmas with a little chipotle for  fun and goes particularly well with my pork and apricot terrine.  Without further delay, I present to you my Christmas chutney and wish you all the very best for the New Year!

Christmas chutney

250ml red wine vinegar

230g soft light brown sugar

200ml cider vinegar

200g dried apricots (chopped)

1 onion (chopped)

1 chipotle chilli

3 cloves garlic (chopped)

2 tblspoons grated ginger

2 tspoons coriander seeds

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 tspoon salt

Before you begin this recipe, be aware that your kitchen will smell of vinegar from the moment you begin heating the mixture.  You may want to open the windows at the beginning.

Put everything except the coriander seeds into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Meanwhile, heat the coriander seeds in a dry pan until they begin to crackle (but not burn) and then grind them using a pestle and mortar.  Add the powder to the chutney pan.

Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer gently for an hour with the lid on.  Stir the chutney every now and again. Take the chutney off the heat when you are happy with the consistency.  Chunky and tender with not too much liquid is best.  Transfer to a glass jar to cool and thicken and remember to remove the chipotle.  Serve with your favourite meat and cheese.  This chutney is great with pork.  Liven up your sausage sandwiches or pair it with a pork pie!

Oh, you expected a full jar nicely labelled? Sorry, this chutney is in constant use!

Don’t risk it, brisket.

I’m not sure if it’s the value for money or the wonderful results that are currently making brisket my go-to cut of beef.  There’s something about brisket that screams, “Weekend treat!” and I guess it’s the amount of cooking time involved.

I first used brisket in a Tuscan recipe from Jill Norman.  The beef was slowly braised for three hours in a combination of red wine, carrots, celery and tomatoes to achieve a rustic and altogether delicious dish.  Despite the success of that first attempt, I wasn’t too excited about the recipe itself because of how predictable it was.  “Next time,” I thought, “I’ll do something very different.”

The wind began to drive against the windows and the sunny morning disappeared behind a gloomy veil of the North Wests’ finest rain.  It was time to bring the beef up to room temperature.  My father-in-law is a massive fan of beef with ginger and spring onions and he makes a bee-line for the local Chinese as soon as he arrives from France.  It’s the combination of tender beef and serious amounts of ginger that really make it for him.  I thought that perhaps brisket would lend itself to these Asian flavours if it was cooked for long enough and given strong ingredients.

Brisket with ginger and spring onions

1-1.5kg rolled beef brisket

12 spring onions (chopped)

2 medium white onions quartered

3 stalks lemon grass (finely chopped)

Copious amounts of fresh root ginger (finely chopped)

2 large cloves garlic (1 chopped, 1 crushed)

1 glass white wine

1 red chilli

butter

olive oil

pepper

salt

How much ginger? That much.

I started by rolling the brisket in a mixture of sea salt flakes and cracked black pepper.  Once coated, I threw a knob of butter into a 20cm casserole with a little oil and browned the meat on all sides on a high heat.  I removed the meat and prepared the vegetables.  I got half way through grating the ginger and decided to chop the rest.  The rain had stopped and I needed to walk the dog.  I added all of the vegetables including the chilli which I left whole.  These cooked gently on a low heat until soft, but not brown.  I added a little hot water if the mix got too dry.

Butter, oil and a satisfying sizzle.

A good stir and it was time to return the meat to the casserole.  At this point, I added the wine and then topped it up with water until the meat was almost covered, but not quite.  A hard boil for 2 minutes got things going before I turned the heat down to the lowest setting and put the lid on.  It’s important that the meat fits snugly into whatever you cook it in and that the lid is on firmly.  You don’t want the liquid to reduce and leave you with tough meat sitting in a salty puddle.

Lots of flavour.

That was it!  Done.  I just had to find something to do for three hours.  I turned the meat over occasionally and I basted it when I got restless, but it really does take care of itself.  Today I used a cut weighing 846g so it only needed two hours of cooking to be really tender.  I rested it for twenty minutes before carving into thick slices.

The beef has a rest next to the spring greens.

Seasonal food is always a treat and this was no exception.  I’d already used plenty of spring onions and to serve the beef I boiled some Jersey Royals and quickly fried some spring greens in a little butter.  Since the sauce was so punchy, I didn’t need any other strong flavours on the plate.  A nice glass of the same white that went into the beef sauce and you’re laughing!  I can’t wait to make this for my father-in-law.  C’est magnifique!

Beef brisket with ginger & spring onions served with Jersey Royals and spring greens.