Tag: tes cooks

The English Student Cooks: Souffle Cheese and Broccoli Pancakes

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Souffle Cheese and Broccoli Pancakes

Method: I started off by making the pancake batter in the usual way: making a well in 85g flour and adding one beaten egg and a bit of milk and mixing them together, and then adding 85ml milk and 85ml water and stirring. Then I put that aside to stand.

Next, the broccoli: 30g of tiny broccoli florets got boiled for a minute and drained and put aside.

The next thing was cheese sauce, which went horribly wrong the only other time I’ve made it, so I was justifiably nervous. I melted 10g butter (I was quartering all the measurements, which proved challenging – I dare you to measure out 10g of anything on analogue scales) and stirred in 10g plain flour and cooked this roux for a minute, and then added 75ml milk, slowly, so it was smooth; and then brought the mixture to the boil until it went all thick and lovely. It was a good moment, realising that it had actually worked!

The sauce came off the heat and I added 20g Cheddar and some mustard, and then about 20g more Cheddar because, frankly, I like my cheese sauce cheesy and not bland.

At this point I made two pancakes with the pancake batter, frying them in hot oil for a minute each side.

I separated an egg (just about – I tend to start doing things and then realise I haven’t thought them through at all, which is not good when you are wandering around with an eggshell full of yolk), and beat the yolk into the cheese sauce before whisking up the whites (with a handheld electronic beater, having tried whisking egg whites by hand before and not being foolish enough to try that twice) until they formed soft peaks – or, in practice, until I got bored.

The egg whites got folded into the cheese sauce mixture along with the broccoli, and the mixture went in the middle of the pancakes, which I’d put on a buttered baking tray. The pancakes were folded up, Parmesan was grated over them, and they went in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes.

Substitutions/alterations: As I’ve said, I quartered the recipe, not being in need of 8 pancakes.

Verdict: The pancakes came out of the oven all right, which was a miracle in itself, and they tasted approximately correct. I wanted them to be cheesier, though.

All in all, it was quite a satisfying recipe to cook – fiddly, but not overly so, and full of things that felt like little triumphs (white sauce, soufflé mixture). If I tried it again – which I won’t rule out – I’d cook them for more people than just me, and add more cheese.

The English Student Cooks: Basil and Goat’s Cheese Pancakes

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Basil and Goat’s Cheese Pancakes

Method: I made pancake batter – one beaten egg added to a well in 60g flour, mix up until smooth, add 4oml water and 40ml milk, as well as a bit of dried basil, and mix – and left it to rest for half an hour while I frantically tried to up my NaNo word count. (I am terrible at word counts.) Then I fried the batter up into mini pancakes, cooked over a lower heat than usual for two minutes on each side, and topped with goat’s cheese and sprinkles of paprika. (I honestly think paprika is one of my favourite things.)

Alterations/substitutions: I only used a third of Mary’s quantities because I did not want 20 mini pancakes. Also, I used dried basil instead of fresh because I have no chance of using fresh basil outside of a specific recipe.

Verdict: This is a huge faff and you should not try it at home. I couldn’t really taste the basil (although this is possibly because I didn’t use fresh) or, for that matter, the paprika. And I remain at a loss as to why you would serve pancakes as a canapé: they are greasy and impossible to eat sophisticatedly.

Excuse me, I have to go try to write a science fiction novel.

The English Student Cooks: Mushroom Triangles

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Mushroom Triangles

I actually cooked this on Sunday but was too lazy to write it up. So, serendipitous midweek post!

Method: Easy peasy: I made pancake batter (85g plain flour, 85ml milk, one egg, a bit of water, whisk it all up, then add 85ml water) and left it to stand for half an hour, during which time I diced six mushrooms very very tiny indeed and grated down 125g (or so) mature Cheddar cheese. I mixed the mushrooms up with the cheese, added some dried tarragon, and then made pancakes!

Next came the tricky part: I cut the pancakes into quarters, put some mushroom mixture on each quarter and tried to wrap them up so they looked vaguely like triangles. (Very vaguely.) Then I put the sort-of triangles back in the pan to cook.

Substitutions/alterations: Mary’s pancake recipe uses oil in the batter, but I did that once and they were far too greasy, so I just left it out. It seemed to work OK nonetheless. Also, I know there’s no hope of my using up leftover fresh herbs, so I used dried tarragon instead.

Verdict: Too fiddly to be worth it. The ones that worked were quite nice (I did like the hint of tarragon at the back of the mushroom mixture), but the sum total of the ones that worked was about three out of twelve, which is not a fantastic ratio. Even as a canapé I don’t think they’re terrific: I would have thought pancakes are a bit greasy to serve as finger food, besides which all the filling wanted to fall out anyway.

Also, Mary’s recipe makes a vast amount of cheese and mushroom mixture. As well as filling twelve pancake quarters I had enough to make a very cheesy omelette indeed this evening and I still have some left over (which I will probably use for some very odd cheese on toast).

The English Student Cooks: Blue Cheese Cornucopia

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Blue Cheese Cornucopia

Method: That’s a very fancy name for a very simple recipe. Basically, I made pancakes (one egg, 85g plain flour, 85ml milk and 85ml cold water whisked together any old how and left to stand for half an hour before frying) and spread them with a mixture of 125g Danish blue cheese and 60g (or thereabouts) butter. Mary wanted me to cut them into eight and fold them up but life is too damn short.

Substitutions/alterations: I didn’t do the pancake mixing thing with the well in the flour and whisking the liquid in gradually because, honestly, the liquid had already overflowed the well so it sort of seemed redundant. I also did not add the basil or walnut garnish because, really?

Verdict: Mmmmm. Salty and pancake-y and a bit greasy. Obviously you don’t want to eat them all at once, but in small amounts they are great.

The English Student Cooks: Chicken and Dill Parcels

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Chicken and Dill Parcels

Method: I started by boiling a chicken breast (it had been in the freezer for about a year, so we’ll see whether I’m still alive in the morning). While that was happening, I made pancake batter (!): I made a well in 85g of plain flour, added a lightly beaten egg and a little milk and combined that into a stiff mixture, then added 85ml of milk and 85ml of cold water and stirred again. That rested for half an hour in a glamorous Pyrex jug, alongside the chicken, which was cooling under a tea towel.

Meanwhile, I washed up. And then did some internetting.

When the pancake batter was feeling nice and snoozy (I know, because I asked it, a tip I learned from Val of this year’s Great British Bake Off), I made pancakes in a hot frying pan with sunflower oil. I’m still getting the hang of pancakes, so a couple of them were quite thick and the first one was a write-off because I tried to flip it before it was cooked properly. (I ate it anyway.)

So I left them to cool while I made the filling: I diced the chicken, sliced three spring onions and defrosted a couple of tablespoons of frozen peas by sticking them in a mug and pouring a small amount of boiling water over them. (This tip I learned from the Circumlocutor.) Chicken, spring onions and peas went into a bowl together with 2 tbsp Asda own-brand mayonnaise and 1 tsp English mustard that has been at the back of my fridge for about a year (again, we’ll see whether I’m still alive in the morning!). Oh, and some dried dill – I don’t know exactly how much because I just shook it at random from the jar.

I cut the cooled pancakes in four, spooned some chicken mixture on each and wrapped it up anyhow (Mary’s instructions didn’t work fantastically, but conceivably this is because I am spatially challenged and as soon as you start gabbling on about short edges and long edges my brain shuts down). Then I ate them.

Substitutions/alterations: I left the sunflower oil out of Mary’s pancake recipe, because I made them last weekend and they seemed very greasy and not, you know, fantastically healthy. I also used dried dill instead of fresh because I know I won’t use it this week and I didn’t want to buy a whole packet just for this meal.

Verdict: There was too much mustard: it coated everything and was just exhausting to eat. I also wonder about how tidy these are given they are supposed to be served as part of a buffet spread: though they’re quite easy to assemble wrapping them up so they don’t fall apart is tricky and even so they have a propensity to fall apart. I didn’t enjoy these enough to make them again, but if for any reason I did I would definitely reduce the amount of mustard in the recipe.

The English Student Cooks: Creamy Seafood Pancakes

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Creamy Seafood Pancakes

Method: First, I made the pancake batter: I made a well in 125g plain flour (in a bowl, obviously) and added one egg and the yolk of another as well as a little milk, and beat it all up to make a smooth and quite stiff batter. Then I added 300ml milk and left it to stand while I made the pancake filling.

I cut up one cod fillet into smallish cubes before frying half an onion and a small clove of garlic till the onion was soft. Then I remembered that I still had to go through the tremendous faff of peeling a couple of salad tomatoes (core, score an X on the base, plunge into boiling water for 15 seconds, plunge immediately into cold water, peel), so I did that rather hurriedly. Then I had to take the seeds out (which is another quite fiddly and messy job) and chop the flesh really small. Finally, I added the tomatoes, the cod and some dill to the onion and garlic (by this time slightly beyond soft) and cooked down for ten minutes, by which point the tomatoes had disintegrated and made a kind of thick sauce with the cod juices. Next, a 180g packet of cooked prawns and one and a half tablespoons of single cream went in, got heated for a bit and then just kept warm while I made the pancakes.

I hadn’t made pancakes before, and found the whole experience quite fun. It took a while to get the technique just right: how much of the batter to pour into the pan (enough to cover the bottom), how long to cook each side (about a minute), how hot the pan needs to be (quite hot). The last couple of pancakes were pretty good, though.

By this time I couldn’t be bothered with wrapping the filling in the pancakes, so I just dumped it on top of them (there were quite a few).

Substitutions/alterations: I kept the pancake batter quantities the same (it being quite difficult to use only half an egg), but halved the filling.

Verdict: The fish mixture, by some alchemy, comes out really rich and delicious; however, next time, I might take the prawns out, or reduce the quantity I use, as they tend to overwhelm the cod.

The pancakes were awesome. I don’t think you can really go wrong with a pancake short of burning it to a crisp.

This is one of the recipes I’m most likely to make again, I think – and the filling would even work separately from the pancakes.

The English Student Cooks: Broccoli and Ricotta Tart

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Broccoli and Ricotta Tart

Method: I cut up some broccoli into little florets and diced up the stalks (which I have never bothered to do before – life is too short) and boiled the whole lot for one minute, and drained it, etc. Then I mixed 250g of ricotta, 125g of non-fat cottage cheese (because I failed to buy enough ricotta earlier on in the day and non-fat cottage cheese was all Tesco Express could sell me at 6:30pm on a Sunday), 125g of grated Cheddar, 60g (or thereabouts) grated Parmesan, two eggs, two cloves of garlic and some thyme together in a bowl. Finally I grated down about six slices of wholemeal bread to make breadcrumbs and stirred them into about 75g melted butter. I lined my special quiche tin with three-quarters of the breadcrumbs to make a kind of crust, dolloped some of the cheese mixture in, remembered I was supposed to stir the broccoli stalks into the cheese mixture, did so, and dolloped the rest of it – Now With Added Broccoli Stalk! – into the tin. On top of that went the rest of the breadcrumbs and then the broccoli florets, “arranged” in my signature abstract style, otherwise known as the “Just Cram Them All On” school of culinary arranging. The tin went in the oven for 40 minutes.

Substitutions/alterations: I think the tin I used was smaller than the one Mary specified, but in truth I have no idea because the Circumlocutor seems to have reclaimed his measuring tape.

Verdict: Like many of Mary’s Eggs and Cheese dishes, this was very, very rich; also I had trouble getting it out of the tin as I didn’t really trust the crust to stand up on its own. It ended up being scooped oh-so-elegantly out with a serving spoon. I did really enjoy the thyme, though, which gives the egg-and-cheese decadence a slightly more grown-up edge. This should be served in very small portions; I’m not sure I’d make it again though.