About Chopped/Sliced/Diced Onions

I was watching the Hairy Biker in USA one morning while eating my breakfast.
One of their tips was to place the cut/chopped onions in ice water, to make them less potent.

I hadn’t heard that one before, so I Googled it and yes that’s a fact.

  • Is there a way to tame the raw onions bite as they seem to be everywhere especially in summer and salads?
  • There is, and it’s simple: soak them for 30 minutes in cold water.
  • How long can I keep raw onions?
  • Sliced, cut or diced raw onions can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.
    Simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or keep them in a resealable bag.

About the common Onion

  • The abrasive quality in onions comes from the sulphur compounds, which are neutralized when onions are heated. But water can have a similar effect as it dissipates many of the compounds, and thus reduces their pungency. Just leave the onions in the water for ten or so minutes, and you’ll have remarkably less intense onions. You can also soak them in vinegar or citrus juice to add a new flavour to the onions.

Coat Them in Salt

  • For those that don’t want the crispiness of water-soaked onions, salting them can eliminate some of the sting while also giving them a softer texture. Simply coat cut onions in a generous pinch of salt, and let them sit for 15 minutes; this will draw out much of the moisture, and some of the compounds that result in the pungency. Afterward, you can wipe/shake off the excess salt if you desire.
  • This is also my tip for dynamic salad dressings; salt some chopped shallots, as the moisture will infuse the dressing with a mild onion flavour.

Add Vinegar or Water & Microwave

  • If you don’t want to wait the 10-15 minutes for the other tricks, this is the quickest route: put the chopped onions in a bowl with some water or vinegar, add some salt, and throw them in the microwave for ten seconds. Voilà!
  • For a compromise between raw and cooked, one advice is to cook the chopped/sliced/diced onions in water on the stove for a minute or two on high heat, which will eliminate the intensity while retaining the raw texture.

And if you simply don’t like onions, don’t worry:
there are plenty of alternatives, but I’m not covering that topic.

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Meatballs, Polpette and Rissole defined.

When looking for the definition of Polpette I came across these two descriptions:
Meatballs or Rissole.

A Meatball is ground meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasoning. Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce. There are many types of meatballs using different types of meats and spices.

A Rissole is a small patty enclosed in pastry, or rolled in breadcrumbs, usually baked or deep fried. The filling has savoury ingredients, most often minced meat, fish or cheese, and is served as an entrée, main course, or side dish.

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“Pork bola bola” soup, a simple yet delicious Filipino soup. Meatballs on a Skewer.
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Meatballs being Cooked Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller)
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Swedish style Meatballs, served with all the trimmings. Italian Polpette in Tomato sauce with Spaghetti.

Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce and/or soup. There are many types of meatballs using different types of meats and spices.
The term is sometimes extended to meatless versions based on vegetables (Vegiballs) or fish (Fishballs). You can also use Chicken or Turkey mince.

Retrieve a teaspoon full of the mince mixture (dough) and place it in the palm of your hand. Gently form that dough (by using your other hand as well) into a small ball (about 2cm in diameter). Place each ball on a tray, but keep them separate. Repeat until all the dough is used. Be careful not to overwork the dough, to avoid making your meatballs dense and tough, but the meatballs do need to be formed tightly enough that they won’t fall apart during cooking. You’ll get the hang of it after trying it once.

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PS… Wet your hands (between each ball) so that the dough doesn’t stick, and this also makes it easier to shape the individual balls.

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Easy Chicken Liver Pate

Makes 3 ramekins         Soaking time: 1 hour          Prep & Cooking Time: 10 minutes

I have made a couple of changes to my old recipe.
The two major ones are: a) soak the liver in milk, salt and water for about 1 hour to draw out most of the blood, which could make the livers bitter and
b) cover the ramekin dishes with melted butter/lard or a mix of.
I used Sherry & Brandy, and because I evaporated too much of the liquid I added another gass of sherry, and it was very nice.

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  • 300ml milk plus 1 heaped tbsp salt
  • 50g Goose Fat (or butter)
  • 400-450g Chicken Livers (trimmed)
  • 1 large Spring Onion (approx. 2cm) finely chopped
  • 1 large clove Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 small tsp Salt and Black Pepper (to your taste)
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme leaves only or
    a couple of 2-3cm lengths of sprays
  • 75-100ml Red Wine (or Sherry or Chicken Stock)
  • 1-2 tbsp Brandy
  • 50-100g butter, melted (for the finishing touches)
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves (for decoration)
  • Some fresh Cranberries (for decoration)
  1. Remove the sinew from the chicken livers and halve the larger pieces. Place in a bowl with the salted milk and a little water, enough liquid to cover the chicken liver totally to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Place the thyme leaves or stalk pieces into a mortar. Add the salt and grind – the salt will help removing the thyme leaves from the stalks. Don’t overdo it. Then remove all the stalks and add the pepper.
  3. After 1 hour drain the liver from the milk. Rinse and dry the liver.
  4. I prefer to use a wok as the heat surface is smaller but the cooking is easier to deal with. Melt the fat in the wok (or a frying pan) over a medium heat; add the onion and the garlic; fry until softened, but not coloured.
  5. Add the herbs and fry for ½ minute
  6. Add the chicken livers and fry for 1-2 minutes to seal, constantly turning the livers so that they do not get brown.
  7. Now stir in all the liquid and let the live cook vigorously for 3-4 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated/boiled away.
  8. Place everything in the food processor or use a stick-blender and blend until smooth.
  9. Transfer the pâté into 3-4 serving ramekin or small dish flatten the top surface with a teaspoon. Spread the melted butter between the ramekin dishes. (This is to prevent the pâté from oxidising and discolouring).
  10. Set aside until cooled to room temperature then cover with cling film and place in fridge.

Decorate with a couple of cranberries and a bay leaf when serving.

The pâté can be frozen and will keep for up to 3 months.

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Nearly Ratatouille

Serves: 4-6         Prep Time: 10-20 minutes         Oven Time: 45 minutes

I didn’t have all the ingrediencies required for a ratatouille but I think my take of this dish suites most home cooks. Its not difficult and it gets rid of the small need to be used vegetables in your fridge.

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  • 1 portion lardoons
  • 1 Red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Shallot onion, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ Celeriac, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 1 sweet red pepper, quartered long ways and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 4-5 thin slices Ginger
  • 2 Courgettes quartered long ways and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 4 Carrots, quartered long ways and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3-4 garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil, for blanching
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 tin chopped Tomatoes
  • Salt, Pepper and Mixed Herbs to taste.
  • Optional – a little Saffron and or Sweet Paprika.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Chop/prep all ingrediencies and keep in separate bowls.
  3. Add the oil to the big oven dish, and blanch the lardons, before they crisp up add the onions, chopped garlic, red pepper and ginger.
  4. After 3-5 minutes stir in the carrots, celeriac and leeks. Fry, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  5. Then pour in the wine and chopped tomatoes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sprays of thyme and maybe add some mixed herbs.
  7. Top the lot with the courgettes, gently turn the courgettes under the contents of the oven dish. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven. Check the taste, and add extra if needed. This is also where you add the saffron and paprika. Gently turn everything in the dish making sure its all covered in liquid and return to oven without the lid, for another 15 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Bolognaise Leftover Supper

Serves 1         Prep. time 5 minutes         Oven time 40-45 minutes
I had a small portion of bolognaise sauce leftover, and didn’t want to cook pasta so I decided to make stuffed open sweet pepper to be served with baked potato and onion.

  • 1 small portion of leftover bolognaise sauce
  • 1 large Sweet Pepper, halved length wise
  • 1 large potato, quartered into boats
  • 1 large shallot, halved length wise
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for the oven tray and to brush potatoes and onion
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese

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  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, in the meantime:
  2. Clean the two halves of Sweet Pepper, fill the cavity with the bolognaise sauce
  3. Place everything in a sparsely greased baking tray as in the picture.
  4. Brush a little oil on each potato boat and the two onion halves.
  5. Sprinkle the potatoes and onion with salt & pepper
  6. Cover the tray with foil, and place the hot oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil, and sprinkle the Sweet peppers with the cheese.
  8. Return the baking tray to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

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And serve. It’s delicious.

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Lamb Meatloaf

Serves 4-6         Prep. time 5-10 minutes         Oven time 90 minutes

210102 Lamb Meatloaf

  • 150g Cooked Rice
  • 300g Lamb Mince
  • 1 large Egg or 2 smaller ones
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Onion, cut into rings
  • 1 large Bell Paprika sliced and pre-fried
  • 1 large squashed Garlic Clove
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Little Oil to grease the baking tin.

Condiments:

  • ½ tsp Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • A pinch Cinnamon

Most of the condiments are optional, just add what you like; but a little bit of this and that, enhances the flavour of the Lamb-loaf.

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Grease the baking tin.
  3. Chop & cut onions as stated. Line the greased baking tin with the sliced onion.
  4. Place all the herbs & spices in a little dish.
  5. Place the mince, the rice, the chopped onion, the bell paprika and garlic in a bowl. Mix well, using your hands (this is the best way).
  6. When you feel that your meat mixture is well mixed, sprinkle the contents of the herbs & spices mix over the meat mixture.
  7. Mix it all again, making sure that the herbs & spices are thoroughly combined.
  8. If you feel that the loaf-mixture is too wet, mix in 1 or 2 tbsp Tapioca flour.
  9. Take your greased baking tin and scope the meat mixture into the tin. Tap the tin on the bottom to make sure there are no air pockets in the loaf. Cover the tin with foil and place the tin in the warm oven for up to 90 minutes.
  10. After 80 minutes check if the loaf is cooked with a skewer or a thermometer.
  11. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 minutes until the top is golden-brown.
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Mash Pancake and Onion Gravy with Meatballs, Leeks and Carrots.

I was tidying up my Freezer and found a little bag with 10 small meatballs made from Cumberland sausage meat. I also found one portion of frozen Mash, I thawed them both. In the meantime I had also found 3 different trays with 50g chopped onions, 75g leeks cut in rings and 75g small diced carrots in my fridge.

I was raking my brain for what to make with my finds and this is what I came up with.

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  • I placed 15g butter in a saucepan, once the butter was melted, I added the chopped onions and a handful lardons. Let it fry until the onions were translucent and the bacon started to crisp.
  • Then added 50ml gravy made with 2tsp Bistro onion gravy mix and 50ml boiling water. If the gravy is too thick add a little more boiling water. When the gravy is ready pour it over the onions and bacon.
  • Then add the meatballs, give it a stir, then add the vegetables, cover and leave on low heat for 5-15 minutes depending on your mash pancake.
  • If you didn’t place the mash in a bowl to thaw then pour the thawed mash into a bowl. You do not want the mash to be too thick nor too thin. If its too thick add a little milk or water, if its too thin add 1 tsp potato flour or equivalent flour. Heat in a microwave for 20 seconds, and check the consistence; maybe add a little more flour.
  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan, and pour the mash into the middle of the pan, it should spread evenly, if not just shake the pan until the mash is spread across the whole pan. Lower the heat to half heat. Leave for 5 minutes before turning and fry for another 5 minutes.

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Jerusalem Artichokes

I didn’t know anything about Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) until
a friend of mine gave me a bag (roughly 1.5kg) of his harvest. I was a little comprehensive because they looked weird and they had no give-away smell at all.

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It took me two days to get courage enough to start experimenting.

My first try, was just to boil them in saltwater – similar to potatoes – without peeling them.

I placed 10 medium sized roots in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Added 1 tsp salt, and left them cooking for 15 minutes. I then removed the skin, simply by cutting length-wise and squeezing the flesh out. I was surprised of the flavour, I know I’ve tasted it before, but no idea where. It wasn’t an unpleasant taste.

I used a teaspoon to make small cakes on a frying pan with butter, and sprinkled mixed herbs, garlic & onion salt over them. That was very nice.

I then used the rest to make a mash, by adding a little milk and butter, plus pepper, nutmeg, onion and garlic salt. Mixed it thoroughly and reheated the mash, and that was quite a pleasant taste too.

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How to spot an uncooked egg.

imageI was cooking some eggs today and realised that I had binned the old
6-pack tray, so I had to put the cooked eggs (after they had cooled down) in with the uncooked eggs.
An easy way to recognise the cooked ones, would be to mark each egg (using a pencil) with a X on the top.

But you don’t really have to do that.

In case you did not marked the eggs, just take any egg and
spin it on your worktop, the egg that spins freely is a cooked egg.

Why do the uncooked egg spin so sluggishly?
That’s because of the yolk and white is laying loose inside the shell.

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Croutons vs. Chips

I had ½ a stale white bread and because of our current circumstances with Covid-19, I didn’t just want to throw it away or feed it to the birds.

As I quite like to have a nipple when I watch TV, I decided to make some flavoured croutons.

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  • Left over bread
  • Some oil (olive or sunflower)
  • Salt and flavouring (onion salt, Garlic salt, mixed herbs …)
  • Cut 4 slices, and cut the slices into 1cm cubes.
  • Placed ½ of the cubes in a pre-heated wok,
  • Drizzle some sunflower oil, salt and onion salt over the lot.
  • Turn heat down to half, and turn the cubes at regular intervals until the croutons are browned but not burned.
  • For the second half replace onion-salt with another flavour.

And there you have it, croutons instead of chips to nipple.

Cooking and Prep. time max 10 minutes.

 

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