Yorkshire Wraps

Have just been out to The Museum pub in Orchard Square. John's in town for a job thing, so we had a treat lunch together. I noticed a strange item on the menu, but it was too hot to order it and see what it actually was. Luckily the woman on the next table had one, so I now understand the principle behind the Yorkshire Wrap.

In a lot of pubs round here you can get a yorkshire pudding, usually somewhere between 4 and 10 inches across, filled with meat and gravy. The meat is traditionally a roast dinner – beef in gravy, say, and you get chips or roast potatoes on the side, plus boiled veg sometimes. The puddings are thick and flabby, like a very stodgy round pancake but with high side edges to hold in the filling. Someone has had a flash of inspiration, and re-created it as finger food.

Take a ready-made catering size pudding, and warm it through. Don't let it get crisp (which I think of as one of the key criteria for a yorkshire pudding, oh well, never mind). Lay it out flat and top it with slices of roast beef smeared with horseradish. Roll it up. Put it (or, dear god, more than one) on a hot plate, add a portion of chips and a large ramekin of good gravy, a salad garnish to look healthy and colourful. Eat with your fingers, dunking as you go.

The pub does two of these, the beef one as described above and another one with sausages and fried red onions, each priced at £6.25. Which is slightly cheaper than one of their (rather good) burgers.

 

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Apologies – reboot

I've been very bad about posting here. Some of that is to do with not being interested in food a lot pretty much since Christmas, some of it is sheer laziness. I want to get back into the habit, so I'm going to post regularly as much as I can. Which may mean a few posts will look at bit make-weight, but it's all in a good cause.

So, where are we?

Back on the DrGourmet plan mostly, in fact I had an email from them the other day saying that because I'm in some discussion groups and forums and mailing lists and suchlike, I can beta test a more interactive customised plan. I've sent off the data on us (height, weight, targets, dislikes) and we'll see what happens. Our major slippage, which is still a temptation, and we fell for it again this week, is to buy picnic lunches for the weekends. French crusty bread, real butter, pates, cheeses, salami, creamy dressed salads, especially coleslaw. We are better at it than we used to be, we eat less I think, but a lot of it is high in fat and salt. I try to buy fruit to go with it – apples, grapes, cherries, soft summer fruit, but it's very much an afterthought. And of course we don't finish it all in one go, so you end up buying top-ups and having it again.

In product news, our Waitrose has started stocking a whole new section of Japanese foods, with different brands and a wider range than they had before. No wasabi paste anymore, but they do have the powder, even if it is one of the cheaper ones that's cut with horseradish. Lower sodium soy sauce, which is one of the DrGourmet ingredients I haven't been able to get before. Some seaweeds, umeboshi puree, things like that. The Thai range looks a lot better too, I didn't go poking around in any detail.

For tea tonight we have four each large scallops with the roe, which I intend poaching in some white wine with herbs, and serving with some white bread and plain sliced pan-fried courgettes with a squeeze of lemon. It should be this – Scallops with Herbed Butter – but that's a lot of faff for a very similar result.

That's enough for today, I can feel more words dribbling out of my fingers and I want to save them for later.

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Chilled Summer Soup

It says summer, but this might make a good lunch for a stuffy overheated office in winter. Another Waitrose card, serves 6, 224 cals per.

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 250 gms courgettes, sliced
  • 250 gms peas
  • 750 mls hot stock, chicken or veggie
  • 20 gm pack fresh mint
  • 500g tub greek yoghourt

Melt the butter and add garlic, onion and rosemary. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stir in courgettes. Cook for 5 more minutes, until courgette is starting to soften but not colour.

Add peas, and stock. Boil and simmer for 10 minutes until courgette is tender. Cool, and discard rosemary.

Blend soup with mint and yoghourt. Season to taste and chill.

(They suggest Fudges Mature Cheddar and Black Pepper flatbreads to serve, but if you needed something else almost any crispbread or toasted pitta bread would be fine. You could cut the calories with a low-fat yoghourt, but I suspect the richness of the yoghourt is crucial to the taste and texture of the soup.)

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23rd Dec

The eve of Christmas Eve – lunch, salad with clementine slices, shallots, lime-dressed beetroot, and prawns. With sesame crispbreads.

Dinner, braising steak cooked a long slow time in the oven with red wine, thyme, allspice, garlic, shallots, leek, celery, carrot and parsnip. With stir-fried broccoli in garlic sauce and granary bread fresh out of the machine.

Pudding – bought-in coconut and lime tart, with fresh blueberries and cream.

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Blue Cheese and Parsnip Puffs (Souffles)

I have to admit I still have never cooked a souffle. It always seemed too much faff, there's that whole "last moment" thing, and nowadays they're not on the approved list. But these looked very yummy, and, dammit, it's about time. From Good Housekeeping December 1999, serves 8 at 189 cals per serving.

 

  • 225 gms parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 50 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 50 gms flour
  • 284 ml carton milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 50 gms Gruyere, grated
  • 75 gms blue cheese, crumbled – suggests Stilton or Dolcelatte

Boil parsnips til tender. Drain, dry well over low heat, and mash.

Lightly butter 8 150 ml ramekins and put on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter, stir in flour and mix til smooth. Take off heat and blend in milk, reheat to boil, stirring continuously. Cool a little, beat in the egg yolks, Gruyere and parsnip puree, season.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peak, fold into parsnip mixture with the blue cheese. Don't overdo it.

Fill the ramekins almost to the top, cook at Gas Mark 6 for 15 – 20 minutes until puffed up and brown. Serve immediately.

I'd pop them on a bigger plate with some bitter salad – chicory, rocket, watercress, or they'd be a bit rich by themselves. While they'd make a great starter, you couldn't have a cheeseboard really after, and they might be better as a main course for a smaller meal – lunch or supper, maybe with some crusty bread. Be careful with the salt because of the cheese.

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Mango Salad Wraps

There's a recipe in one of the Moosewood books I've always liked, where you make little one-bite wraps with spinach leaves, filling each with pinches ot peanuts, toasted coconut, and chopped raw limes. This is a grown up version of that, it sounds well fiddly to make but deeply yummy. Serves 4, no nutritional info given. From olive, February 2004.

  • 6 small chopped shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 cm root ginger
  • 3 mild red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsps roasted salted peanuts
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 4 tbsps palm sugar (or light muscovado)
  • 2 heads bok choi or lettuce
  • 2 firm not too ripe mangoes, finely sliced lengthways
  • Half a fresh coconut, shaved into shreds with a potato peeler
  • Handful fresh basil, Thai if you can get it
  • 4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
  • 2 limes, halved

Blast the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor until well chopped but not mushy.

Crush the peanuts, keeping some texture.

In a pan, heat 200 ml water, the shallot mixture, the peanuts, shrimp paste, fish sauce and sugar. Boil hard, stirring, for 15 – 20 minutes until thick, dark, sticky and glossy.

Lay out everything on a platter, with the sauce in little bowls.

Take a leaf of bok choi or lettuce, lay on a slice of mango, spread with peanut sauce, add coconut, basil and onions. Squeeze with lime juice, roll and eat.

You'd have to be careful what bok choi you got, so there was a lot of leaf to white stalk. Spinach might be just as good as lettuce. Having to slice the mangoes that way round means no cheating and buying pre-prepared, you could do that but you'd have to rethink the physical structure of the wrap to allow for cubes of mango. It would mean you could have riper mango, though. This has the potential to be really, really sticky – get lots of wetwipes.

 

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Bang Bang Turkey

This is a noodles and meat variation on the Gado Gado salad, with a peanut dressing. From Good Food, December 2005. Another recipe from Ainsley Harriott, who in the same article posited the wacky Asian Fish with butter. This looks a bit more ethnically traditional, and would be a tasty way of using up cooked turkey. 4 portions at 351 calories per serving.

  • 6 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsps dark soy sauce
  • 125 gms thin rice noodles
  • 8 oz cooked turkey breast, shredded
  • 1 small iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, matchsticked
  • Half small cucumber, halved, deseeded, matchsticked (doesn't say peeled)
  • 4 spring onions, shredded

Put the peanut butter in a bowl and add the chilli and soy sauce. Stir in 4 tbsps boiling water until well combined and runny.

Soak the noodles as per packet instructions, drain.

Toss everything together, drizzle the sauce over. Serve with extra soy if you like.

It's the same method of making the peanut sauce as in the Gado Gado, but more simplistic – no fish sauce, no lime juice. If you weren't having anything else with it, you could add some extra calories with some fresh roasted peanuts. And I think a chilli-garlic sauce instead of the sweet chilli would make it a bit more interesting. When I've had Bang Bang in yer bog-standard Chinese restaurant, it's usually served as a tossed salad with the meat neatly laid on top and then the sauce.

 

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Spinach Salad with Ginger Dressing and Sesame Chicken

This is a drgourmet recipe, which I've adapted for British (well, Waitrose) packet sizes. It's really lovely. The original recipe says serve with brown bread and orange marmalade, but it's fine on its own.

390 cals per serving, makes 2 dinners and a lunch for later.

Strain a 454 gm tin mandarin oranges in juice, or two small tins. Keep the juice (the original recipe says frozen concentrate, and assumes that you can only get mandarins in syrup).

Make a dressing with 2 Tbsps grapeseed oil, 1/4 cup of the juice, 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper, a handful of parsley, and a handful of chives (or a spring onion if you can't get chives). Whizz them all in a blender with 2 Tbps of Ming Ginger, not the sugar coated crystallised ginger cubes, but the less sweet dried slices. If you just pulse it in the blender you'll get small bits of ginger left in it, not a smooth smooth dressing that loses its oomph. Chill.

Toast 3 Tbsps flaked almonds, and slice half a red onion really thinly.

Heat a heavy pan and sprinkle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Add a pack of mini chicken breast meat strips, about 350 gms. Sprinkle the upside with a very little salt and 3 Tbsps sesame seeds. (Recipe says black sesame seeds, which I have used, but they oozed black colouring all over the chicken. Yuck.) Cook until done on the bottom, turn, and cook again until done all the way through and the sesame seeds are dark golden and well crunchy.

Put 2 bags baby spinach salad in a big bowl and toss with the dressing.

Lay out 2 plates and 1 lunch box. Start with the spinach, then the onions, orange pieces, and almonds. Top with the chicken, seeded side up.

Yummity yum yum yum.

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Parsnip Soup and Garlicky Greens

VC 2002 – again.

This is basically a coriander flavoured parsnip soup, no cream, but blended smooth. Topped with fried parsnips tossed with garlic and wilted greens. The recipe says spinach, but also that you could use spring greens or pak choi. The calorie count is quite low (201 per portion) as no dairy and not a lot of fat. You could reduce that further by not adding the fried parsnips at the end, or still keep it under 500 and replace them with parsnip chips if you wanted. The garlicky greens might be good seaweed-style? crisp rather than wilted.              

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Brussels Sprout Soup

Posted this as a comment somewhere else, for someone who was thinking of freezing brussels sprouts. Cautioned her against it, but recommended soup. I was in the supermarket last week, even though it is still quite warm for September, longing for fresh sprouts.

 

Buttery and creamy-smooth, top with something sweet and crunchy – parsnip crisps, parmesan biscuits, shredded caramelised fried onion, or toasted almonds.

I like nutmeg in the soup, but a cream sherry flavouring or a dash of maple syrup and lemon peel works well too.

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