Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 12: Inspired by Traditional British Ingredients

Today, I'm highlighting three dishes that, while not traditional British food, use ingredients that are commonly found in British cooking. First up, we have a risotto (one of my favorite Italian dishes) full of green peas. According to Colin Spencer, green peas became very fashionable in England in the seventeenth century, along with artichokes, asparagus, cauliflowers, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, and spinach.* I can't imagine cooking without six of my favorite vegetables (everything on that list except cauliflower and cucumber). Many food historians trace our current tastes to the early modern period when cream, butter, and flour roux were taking over from the medieval sweet/sour sauces. Having looked through many medieval recipes, I must say I'd prefer eating in the seventeenth century to eating in the thirteenth century.

My second recipe uses another of the fashionable vegetables, the artichoke, which is combined with cheddar cheese and bacon (very British) to make the best quiche I've ever tasted. To finish up, I decided to mash up Heath bars ("finest quality English toffee," says the label, although I'm sure there is better out there) and put them on top of vanilla ice cream. I have to admit it's a really lazy dessert, but I love toffee, so it makes me happy.

The recipes:

Green Pea Risotto

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
6 cups hot chicken stock
1 pound frozen peas
1 ounce Pecorino Romano, grated
salt and pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a skillet until foaming, add onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened, add garlic, stir around then add rice and cook for about a minute.

Pour in the wine, let it boil for one minute then turn the heat down to medium and add the stock, a ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more. Stir continuously.

When all the stock has been added, keep stirring for about 5 minutes and then add the peas and cook, still stirring, until the peas are cooked and the rice is creamy and fluffy yet still al dente. This will only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Adapted from this recipe.

Artichoke, Bacon, and Cheddar Quiche

Serves 6

1/2 recipe short crust pastry
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon, cut into 3/4"-wide pieces
1 cup heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup (lightly packed) flat-leaf parsley, minced
14-ounce can artichoke hearts (not marinated), rinsed and drained
3 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (a little more than 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to an 1/8-inch thickness. Fit it in a 10" tart pan. Dock and then blind bake the pastry (be sure to put the tart pan on a baking sheet) for 15 minutes. Then, remove the pie weights, brush pastry with a bit of the beaten egg and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

While the pastry is baking, heat the oil over medium-high in a frying pan and cook the bacon until it just starts to brown. Set aside.

Beat the cream into the beaten eggs, add garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper.

Arrange artichokes and bacon in the tart shell and cover with cheddar. Pour the egg mixture over and return tart pan to oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a sharp knife stuck into the center of the quiche causes no liquid to come to the surface. Cool slightly before serving.

Adapted from this recipe.

Lazy Toffee Ice Cream

Serves 1

1 scoop vanilla ice cream (I was really lazy and didn't make my own but used Haagen-Dazs, which, at least, doesn't have crazy chemicals in it)
3 Heath miniatures (21g total), beat with a mallet
1 very English bowl

*Colin Spencer, British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 140.

1 comment:

  1. The risotto and the quiche look really yummy. You should try something with chocolate ice cream so I can copy it. ;)



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