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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Yo Sushi

This is our big treat.
Niamh would rather go there than any other fast food restaurant.
I just wish we lived nearer, or perhaps not, as it's not exactly cheap, and I come out, groaning, after eating far too much every time!.
Not too long till summer holidays, so we'll be back soon.......

Ox heart stew.

 I saw this in Morrison's, back in late Autumn, and since I'd heard it was good, decided to give it a go.

 I poked around in my books and online, and decided to go for a plain, traditional stew recipe.
The heart had some lumps of just plain fat, I chucked those, and cut off any visible pieces, I know fat is OK when it melts down, but I had no idea what heart fat would do, and didn't want to chance it.

First off, sliced two large onions, lobbed in slow cooker with slug of olive oil. Left for three hours till softened and caramelising.
Heated Olive oil in pan, added heart in batches to brown, and get quite crusty in places, removed to a plate when done.
Added flour to thicken juices, and poured in beef stock to deglaze (wine would be good here, I had none), added in squeeze of tomato purée, few splashes of Worcester sauce and a big pinch of mustard powder, plus salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.
Added heart back to the pan, stirred around to combine, then chucked all into slow cooker and left on low overnight.
Got up in morning, sauce seemed quite thin, so took the lid off and left to reduce down all day.
When it came to 45 minutes or so before serving, I transferred it to a pyrex, made dumplings and put them on the top, then cooked in the oven.
I served it with candied carrots (carrots cooked with butter and sugar).
Utterly delicious, not offally at all, and has a great texture, with chew but not chewy or stringy.
I will be buying it again.

Baked spanish risotto

This is a brilliant dish, so easy and tasty, much better than the sum of it's parts.
It came highly recommended on Mumsnet, and always crops up when people are asking for easy, but tasty dishes.
Oven baked spanish risotto

I froze the leftovers, and a couple of weeks later, used them to make arancini, which was also brilliant.  Deep fried food again!



A complete and utter mess!

Nigella's lemon polenta cake
I don't know if this was the fault of the recipe, my oven, or me, but the less said about it the better.
It tasted like gritty lemon sand!

Pork vindaloo

I haven't actually done any cooking since Saturday, I'm not feeling well this week, so this is another old meal.
I'd never tried a vindaloo before, the common myth is that they are really hot, at least from UK takeaways, but since I've spent time on lots of food sites, I've learned that the most important thing about vindaloo isn't the heat, it's the garlic and vinegar.
I got this recipe from Mamta's kitchen. I can really recommend her recipes, they are authentic, tasty and they work.
I used my slow cooker for this, and cooked it on low all day.
It was delicious, and not too hot.  It froze brilliantly too, we've already eaten the leftovers.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Thai yellow curry

I've had Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey for a year or so now, and though I read it, it's only in the last couple of months I've tried anything from it.I've made four or five recipes so far though, and all have been great.
I loved the programme, particularly the Bali show, as it features Ibu Oka's where I've eaten.
I did this Thai yellow curry with veg, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and green beans.
It is quite spicy, but we like that, and the flavours are really fabulous.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

More pizza with a difference.

I while back, I came across a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. I was intrigued, but wasn't sure it would be good.  Cauliflower anywhere near pizza is just wrong, right?
But this being me, I had to try it.
I used my mini chopper to 'grate', the cauli, but god that stuff spreads and gets everywhere.  Very messy.
I'd bought a bamboo steamer, specifically for this, so steamed the cauil in it.


The base did seem a bit wet, but I figured, well hoped, it would be ok.
Luckily, it was.
I topped Niamh's with some ham and mozzarella, and mine with anchovies and olives and blue cheese.
I love stinky foods!
These really work, honestly you have to try.
They're not cauliflowery particularly, just incredibly delicious.
Mine did break up a bit on lifting and eating, so best with a fork, but I bet they'd be great cut into bite sized pieces and served at a kid's party.




Saturday, 26 May 2012

Not improving my baking.

I'm not a very good baker, I think I've said this, but I wish I was, and I do love The Great British Bake Off on Tv, so, when I saw the book, reduced on Amazon, I bought it.
Given my lack of sweet tooth, I flicked straight to the savoury section, and spotted an amazing recipe for a pie with potatoes, onions, and stilton-right up my street.
As I read the recipe though, the pastry seemed to be a bit of a faff.  I'm a terrible pastry maker anyway, something to do with hot hands I believe, and I hate faff.  Added to that, I don't own a pie dish.
Still, I love pastry, and onions, and cheese.  Mmmmmmmm cheese.
So, I thought I'd make a version of it, with bought pastry, and changing the filling to suit.

Basically, it was caramelised onions, cooked potatoes and stilton,
I made a plait, like this and yes, I have made that!
It was delicious, we loved it.
I gave a slice to my friend for lunch the next day, and she requested another one!

Baked egg pot.

I absolutely have to apologise for the terrible photo here, I know most of my photos are bad, but this is particularly bad.
I got this from Jen's Blog again.
This is a great dish, Niamh has had it numerous times now, for breakfast and lunch, and it's so adaptable.
Bacon/ham/smoked salmon/tomatoes/onions/spring onions/all or none of the above plus cheese.......!
Le Creuset ramekin!

Scottish supper, almost.

I've lived in Scotland for 11 years now, and whilst I'm not a huge fan of fish and chips, I do enjoy it once a year or so.
A supper in Scotland, from the chippy is whatever with chips, so a fish supper=fish and chips, sausage supper=sausage and chips.  You get it!
Anyway, one of the things which features on the menu is pizza crunch.  This is battered, deep fried pizza.  I'd always meant to try it, not because it particularly appeals, it doesn't, but I'll try anything once.
As I was poking through my freezer last week, I found a pizza I'd bought a while back, and thought I'd make my own.
I had actually planned on doing deep fried haggis too, but didn't fancy it in the end, neither did I fancy chips, which is why it's not quite a supper!
I decided on potato salad, and garlic mushrooms to make with it.  I was going to make an interesting potato salad but Niamh asked for just potatoes, with spring onions and mayo, so I did just that!
As much as she is a great eater, and will try new foods, I do keep in mind her preferences, and she is half of our family, and sometimes, what she wants, she gets!
The garlic mushrooms were oven cooked, wrapped in foil, smothered with two crushed garlic cloves mixed with around 2oz of butter.
Cook for 30 minutes at 180, shaking the parcel to mix a couple of times.

As for the pizza, now I had to guess this.
The pizza was, as I said, bought from Aldi-Ricotta, spinach and mushroom.

 I defrosted it

Hmm, it was very floppy.  Maybe it would have been better to cook it first?
Anyway, I battered it, in a standard two egg batter recipe, I use equal amounts of plain flour, eggs and milk.  It works.
The topping fell off, I had to shove it back on, and then put it in the fryer.  I cooked it for around 5 minutes a side, till it was golden and crisp.
This had to be done in batches, so I kept it warm in a low oven.

The verdict?

Utterly brilliant.
Who knew!

Next time, I'll try a home made cooked pizza, with my favourite topping of anchovies and olives.





Chinese night, number 1

This should be number four, but since I haven't blogged the others yet, it's one!
We love Chinese food, and I'll always have a soft spot for the overly greasy Singapore noodles, and incredibly salty chicken satay from the takeaway, but home made tastes so much better, and whilst not healthy exactly, at least I know what's gone in it.
Theses were all new recipes to me, salt and pepper squid, crispy chilli beef with broccoli, and fish fragrant aubergines.
Doing more than one dish does take a bit of planning, to get them all served hot at once, but it's not too difficult.
The aubergines were kept on a low flame, and the squid went in a low oven to keep warm, so it was really just the rice and beef I had to coordinate.
I used mushrooms in place of the minced pork in the aubergine dish, as I wanted one dish to be meat free.  I've frozen some of this so we'll see how it holds up.
We both loved all of them, Niamh's favourite was the beef, mine was the aubergines.  It's so deeply savoury, and salty, and spicy.  It's one of the best things I've eaten all year, One of the others being another Chinese dish-mapo tofu which I'll blog soon.
Niamh was a bit freaked out by the squid tentacles, I've cooked squid before, but never the tentacles.  One taste though and she was hooked.
Strangely, she's never been keen on it from the takeaway, but loves mine.
That's my girl!



Friday, 25 May 2012

Slow cooker falafel.

This is my favourite recipe ever, I love it, and yesterday, given the heat, it was particularly fitting, as using the slow cooker doesn't heat up the kitchen.
Slow cooker falafel
It also dispels all the myths that only 'wet' food can be cooked in them.
I chose to do white bean hummus and tzatziki with it
Niamh was happy about the tzatziki, cucumber is one of her favourite foods, and it stopped her complaining about the lack of meat! No idea why she still complains about lack of meat, since we eat meat free food so often.  Very carnivorous, is my daughter!
This should have had salad leaves with it, but it didn't, since I forgot to order them! <doh>

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lamb and rice curry.

As I mentioned on Monday, I'd been wanting to try a lamb biryani for a while, and hoped to make a version of one with leftover lamb.
It would probably have been next week, as I prefer to vary our meals a bit, but when I told Niamh we were having chilli bean wraps, she complained that she wanted meat.
The only meat I had that would defrost in time was the leftover lamb, and as I didn't have all the ingredients for a biryani, I thought I'd just use a recipe as a vague guide and have a curry.
I read a few, and came up with own version.
I put one onion, two cloves of garlic, a green chilli and half a thumb sized piece of ginger, in my mini chopper, with a teaspoon of turmeric, one of garam masala, and one of ground coriander.
This was blended, and then fried for a few minutes until fragrant.
I added cooked rice, the lamb, a handful of defrosted peas and sweetcorn, and half a pack of plain cashew nuts.
This was stirred and heated through, and served with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Really tasty for a midweek meal.
   
I will get round to trying a proper biryani soon though!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Leftover veg frittata

I hate to waste food, my cupboards and freezer are always better stocked than my fridge, as I know the food in there will last.
I do try and use up everything I have though, and tonight that transpired to a sweet potato and a leek.
I had in plenty of eggs, and some cheese (I always have in cheese, I love cheese), so frittata it was.
I used about half a large sweet potato, and a medium leek for this, plus half a mug of defrosted green beans, snipped up with scissors.
The potato and leek were cut into small pieces and chucked in the oven, tossed with a good drizzle of olive oil for 20 minutes.
After that, they were warmed through in a frying pan, with the green beans, and eight beaten eggs were added.
Cook over a very low heat, until it's mostly set, then sprinkle over the cheese, and put under a hot grill until completely set and browned.

This is brilliant served cold, I've half of it wrapped in the fridge for when Niamh comes home from school and says, 'I'm Staaaaaaaaaarrrrrving'!





Slow cooked lamb

I've been shattered so far this week, I'm currently reducing my steroids and seem to get tireder and tireder as each pill is removed.  So far my face is not deflating either, I still look a lot like Meatloaf.
Anyway, that meant I wanted something for dinner which didn't take much work, and didn't involve flour!
I had a shoulder of lamb in the freezer, so out that came, and google found me a Jamie Oliver recipe
I say recipe, I just used the method with the garlic, omitting the rosemary and choosing different side dishes.
The reason I omitted the rosemary is that I want to use the leftovers in a version of lamb biryani, and I can't imagine rosemary working there.
Oven ready lamb




I'd seen my friend's sister the day before, and she'd been telling me about hassleback potatoes she'd made, and as some kind of weird coincidence, Jen made them that night!
I'd had a tip to put the potato on a spoon, that way you cut through most of them, without going all the way



The meal turned out brilliantly, a really easy roast with gorgeous crispy potatoes and some green veg from my freezer, and I have loads of lamb left for the biryani, so that will be made and blogged soon.


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday Brunch, at dinner time.

I've been watching Something For The Weekend for years, as long as it was on for, and it's recently moved to Channel Four, with the new title, of Sunday Brunch.
Anyway, I was watching this morning (Hellooooooo Steve Backshall), and really liked the sweet potato and goats cheese tarts made.  Simon himself said to change about the recipe, so don't yell at me for doing just that!
I sent Niamh to town on her bike for the pastry, everything else I had in, well for the version I wanted to make anyway.
I split the mixture into two, using stilton in my half, and cheddar in Niamh's.
Sweet potato and goats cheese tarts

These were fantastic, I'm not surprised really, I've made a few of Simon Rimmer's recipes and they work.
I didn't bother with the salad dressing suggested, just a plain and simple oil/wine vinegar vinaigrette on a bag of supermarket salad.


A load of old tripe

I'd never tried tripe, never really wanted to, it looks disgusting, but after buying a Simon Hopkinson book last year, and him recommending it, and reading about it on a few blogs, I was intrigued

The idea came back to me, so I bought some, and tried it a couple of months ago.
The recipe I used was Simon Hopkinson's tripe with spring onions, ginger, chilli and coriander, from The Good Cook.

I must say, the texture when cutting it raw was enough to put me off, and the sound it made, and that it was all stretchy, but I ploughed on.

I adapted the method to the slow cooker.

I had read this blog post:
http://cookingthebooks.typepad.com/cooking_the_books/2008/02/weird-and-won-2.html#more
Now, I didn't have a hangover, but the thing about the smell is relevant. It made my house smell like a farm, which is off putting, and I'd definitely recommend a day in advance.

As for the finished article, well, it was interesting.
Definitely from a cow, yet mild, not slimy at all but sort of squashy, but not in a bad way.
The other flavours were good I thought, though Niamh didn't like the star anise flavour.
Not sure I'd make it again, it was OK, glad I tried it, and I ate a whole bowl (I made sweet and sour chicken and rice too), but maybe not great enough for a repeat.
Niamh ate two pieces though, and just asked that I leave out the star anise next time!
I think that's high praise from a ten yr old.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Saturday night takeaway, without taking it!

Most weekends, I do a takeaway type meal, something a bit junky, a bit indulgent, and this weekend, I'd decided on ribs and onion rings, with side dishes.
Actually, in the winter we have actual takeaway, but it just doesn't seem to fit when it's light outside.  I don't know why this is.
Anyway, these ribs, took a bit of work, a bit of on and off, but they weren't actually didfficult.  I don't do difficult.
The onion rings were easy, but you do need a deep fat fryer.  Why do so many people shy away from them?
I love mine.
With it was coleslaw.  The leftover bit of a white cabbage, carrot and spring onion, dressing made from greek yoghurt, mayo and cider vinegar, and corn cobs.
We both feel so stuffed, that a night on the couch groaning awaits!




Friday, 18 May 2012

101 recipes to try with mince, number 1!

Ah c'mon, we all do it, we buy mince, we chuck it in the freezer for spag bol/chilli/shepherd's pie, and then repeat. And then get bored.
The bank balance is not being friendly this week, so I'm going through the freezer, and of course, I have the  pack of Beef Mince.
The Boring Beef Mince.
Actually, I  make pretty good meals with it, but it still lurks in my mind as , 'ugh, mince'. We don't dislike it, it's just that it features on the 'boring food' list.
Anyway, as it needed to be used, I looked for a recipe, and found one in Nigella's Kitchen
I'm afraid the bourbon was left out.  We are eating freezer mince, how likely is it that the budget will buy bourbon?
This was messy, messy, messy.  I can't stress this enough.  You need aprons, and bibs, and to open your mouth wide!
I think Nigella does that, well she never seems to spill down herself.



Niamh washed it down with her Friday night treat, she's Scottish, through and through!



Thursday, 17 May 2012

Biscuits and gravy.

I used to be on a food site with someone who had made this.
I'd heard of it, though wasn't sure what it was, and it had lurked in the back of my mind. A skint week, and pack of cheapy sausages (Asda Smartprice, yes, earholes and arseholes), meant I tried it.
Biscuits and gravy
Biscuits is obviously an American word, for what we would call scones, savoury scones at that.  They are great, light and flaky.  The gravy is white sauce with sausage, rich, but delicious.
I urge you to try this, I reckon kids would love it.

Slow cooker pork and bean stew, and more flour.

Since I live in temporary accommodation, lots of my stuff is in boxes, that includes most of my recipe books.
I was so close to finding, and opening the recipe book box earlier this week, but then realised that I've never cooked anything from any of my Lonely Plant, World Food, series.  I have 15 of these, 13 right in my living room.
I asked Niamh to choose one, and she chose Spain.  There was a recipe, for a pork, bean and blood pudding stew, it sounded good, so of course I completely didn't make it at all, but it did inspire me to make up my own recipe for this evening's meal!
I used a pork shank, reduced from Morrison's (see a theme here?), a tin of tomatoes, plus one of purée, a couple of onions and garlic cloves, and just whacked it in the slow cooker all day.
The pork completely collapses when you remove it, but that's fine, it's soft, tender, delicious, and takes on all the flavours.
I used haricot beans, soaked overnight, and put in first, under the pork.



To serve with it, I made foccacia.  Why I started with flour again, I don't know.  I'm so floured out, yet I want to make a cake on Saturday.
For this, I used Jen's place, but I halved the recipe, as there's only two of us, compared to Jen's five.
I used my Kenwood chef to knead the dough, which unfortunatly made a sparky noise and then smoked.  I think it's died.
I've been offerred help to fix it though, so hopefully it'll work.
I love my Kenwood.

There's plenty of stew left, but it did make a huge amount.  All the bread has gone!




I didn't bother with the rosemary, mainly, because I forgot to buy it!


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Deep fried pastry x 2, and a disaster!

A few weeks ago, I came across some reduced cod's roe in Morrison's.

I've never cooked this before, or tried it, other than in the form of Supermarket Taramasalata, so bought it, thinking I'd work out what to do with it later.
Later came tonight.
First off, , the homemade version of taramasalata, and cod roe beignets to be served with cullen skink, the Arbroath smokie version of cullen skink, since we've never tried Arbroath smokies before, and they were available in the fishmongers when I was in to buy chicken livers on Saturday.
I made the taramasalata first, knowing it could chill in the fridge untill dinner time.
Hmm, I followed the recipe, but it was very thin, and smelt a bit, um funny.

I tasted it, yes, exactly like fishy bins.  Niamh tasted it, and pulled a face.
I'm afraid it got chucked out, with the rest of the roe and the cod's roe beignet recipe!

So it's now 6 o clock, dinner time is looming and I have no idea what to serve with the soup.
A quick poke of BBC Good Food brings up this recipe for crab beignet.
Excellent.  Do I have crab? Of course not, but I do have prawns, so defrost an equivalent amount to the crab.

Actually, by this time, I'm realising I'm making choux pastry for the first time, I've already had one disaster, and I'm still recovering from last night's flour mess.  I think I'm a glutton for punishment, but no, just a glutton, so on I plough.

The choux pastry was easier than I thought, at the adding eggs stage, I chucked in the Kenwood.

You really, really can't go wrong with deep fried pastry, trust me on this.

So, after a bit of a 'mare, I turned out a pretty good meal.  We both loved it, and it's on the repeat list, the beignets in particular, but then they're deep fried.
We like deep fried!


Deep fried pastry-Mussel empanadas

A few weeks ago, I happenned to catch Rahm Fama, on meat and potatoes deep frying pastry, I can't even remember what the dish was, just that it was pastry, and deep fried.
Now this I had to try.
As luck would have it, I'd also just bought, Valentine Warner's book, What to eat now', with a recipe for mussel empanadas.
I'm afraid I bought the pastry, pastry making is not my strong point.
The stuffing for these was really easy and other than the mussels, I had everything to hand.
The end results, were rich, but sweet shellfish tasting, crispy, crumbly mouthfuls of heaven.
You have to try these, but perhaps not if prone to heart attacks.  I believe they are around 3 million calories each!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A balanced diet

I've been asked, or it's been suggested, that I don't eat junk food, or 'normal food'.
I can assure you, I do, we do, I believe in balance, .
Want to see?
 Aldi instant noodles.  I've not tried them, but I love the kimchi instant noodles from the Chinese shop.  I think they are mainly MSG. Yum.
Morrison's salad bar selection, featuring plenty of bacon bits.
What are those things made of?
Is it bacon?
I'm not sure, but it tastes fake, and I bloody love them, ditto, the crispy onions.




My favourite sideways snack ever, I did tell you that I'm rubbish at technology right?
The one thing wrong with it is that it's not M&S salt and pepper party snax, 'cept they don't call it snax, something clarsier, same thing though!



Too sweet, too cold.
Yes, I'm strange, I like to call it interesting, but I don't really do sweet foods, and I find ice cream too cold.
Niamh likes it though.



Munchy box!
Yep, not for everyday, but delicious.  I do usually ask for extra salad, which seems to baffle them!
80's food!
I love vesta chow mein, I love it once every couple of years in a weird, overly salty and fake tasting cardboard kind of way, anyway. I feel the same way about Fray Bentos pies, actually, I'm due one of them...........
Vesta Chow Mein tip-draining the deep fried noodles, directly into a nylon sieve might melt it.
Perhaps don't do that.

See Paul, we do eat junk !