Thursday, 26 July 2012

Cold Cuts.. with more salad...!! Thursday 26th July 2012

It is still very hot. It was 27 degrees in my office, and 29 in the kitchen. Oof.

I KNOW lots of you in the world regularly have hotter. But this is damp, cool England. We are not used to Phew It's A Scorcher type weather. So I don't like eating hot much. I like dinner at room temperature, neither hot nor cold. The flavours are better, the eating is better, I feel better. Only small amounts of meat too.

So today it is just a couple of packs of ready cooked cold cuts (from the cheaps counter at Sainsbury if you want to know) - some ham that we wouldn't normally get, but OH didn't notice it was pre-formed.. And some cold venison, not something I've ever seen before, and rather odd. Like eating cold liver. Might sound repellent, but actually quite nice!

 With a simple new potato, red onion and parsley salad, and a mixed salad of mainly romain, watercress and spinach, with runner beans and peas. And a handful of baby pomodorino tomatoes. Dressing a light vinaigrette, olive oil, tarragon vinegar and a splash of grapefruit vinegar. Salt and a shake of ToeZapper's 5P seasoning.

Samphire and Crab Sticks Salad - Tuesday July 24th 2012

I have discovered a forgotten liking for crab sticks. If you check the amount of fish in the sticks, and get the ones with the most they are rather tasty, quick and cheap.

This is another hot weather salad, fast, easy and light. Just mixed green salad leaves, with radishes and a little chopped onion, with shredded crab sticks and lightly blanched samphire on top. A light dressing of your choice. Today mine was a vinaigrette made with thyme vinegar and olive oil.

Three Salads : Potato, Hass Avocado, Samphire and Green Bean, with Smoked Mackerel - Monday July 23rd 2012

Three salads today.. new potatoes with parsley and red onion in a mustardy vinaigrette. A Hass Avocado salsa with lime and coriander, and  lightly blanched samphire with radish, romaine lettuce, and cooked green beans  in a light dressing of olive oil and grapefruit vinegar. With flaked hot smoked mackerel on the side.

I bought a whole smoked mackerel from Lidl, rather than fillets, and flaked it off the bone.. Much softer and very good indeed.  I recommend. 

Blythburgh Pork Belly, with home made stuffing , fresh peas and glazed onions. Sunday July 22nd 2012

Lovely day yesterday at the Essex Food Festival, with a detour on the way home to The Food Company just outside Colchester, where I picked up some Blythburgh Pork Belly strips and some charming little Italian onions perfect for glazing.

I usually buy pork belly as a piece, but these were really well priced, and by carefully stuffing them and tying them together they still slow roasted perfectly. The little onions I boiled until tender, then roasted around the pork with a glaze of spiced apple jelly from last years preserving.

Avocado, Tomato and Chicken Salad.. Friday 20th July 2012

It has been nice and warm and I've not felt like blogging.

But I've still been photographing my dinners.. so to follow is a mad catchup..

After the fab chicken and runner bean salad on Thursday, this was to use up the last of the poached chicken, some crabstix, and some lovely Hass avocados. With a chili coriander and lime dressing.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Lindsey Bareham's Chicken & Runner Bean Salad - Thursday 19th July 2012

Fab salad with the first of the English runners I have had this year. Based on a salad by Lindsey Bareham, with a few tweaks of my own. Lovely and simple, poached chicken with runners and peas, fresh tomatoes, herbs, homemade sourdough bread croutons and a lime and olive oil dressing.

This is one to repeat again and again I think.

Italian Style Beef Stew with Gremolata, sautéed courgettes and home made Milk RollsTuesday 17th July 2012

I love gremolata, and this rich, tomato-ey beef stew is just an excuse to scatter it over the top with wild abandon..

A very simple shin of beef stew, made in a pressure cooker, with carrots, celery and onions and a can of tomatoes. I am a lazy cook sometimes, and I lazily thickened this with a sprinkling of one of Schwartz limited edition seasonings - properly speaking for Chicken and Chirozo bake - which both thickened and seasoned. I like Schwartz seasonings, I use their gravy mixes a lot (well I did until Sainsbury's stopped stocking them... very annoyed I am ) and find them less chemically flavoured than a lot. This proves that you don't have to use them in the way that the packet says, I wanted a European vibe in the stew, rather than a traditional English one, and this worked very well.

But the finishing touch, the gremolata is what lifts this into the sublime. Gremolata is very simple, chopped raw garlic, lemon zest and parsley, but the whole thing is a zingy dream.

And of course, home made milk rolls to soak up the juices.

with thanks to Schwartz for their kind samples of seasoning mixes

Gravlax with New Potato, Runner Bean and Pea salad - Monday 16th July 2012

This should have been very delicious, and it will be if you make it with a decent quality of gravlax. However, I was tempted by the bargain price of Lidl's cured salmon, but it really wasn't worth it. Thickly cut, slightly coarse in flavour and greasy to boot.  Next time I will use a different source for my salmon, or just use fresh, lightly poached salmon instead.

The salad was lovely though. Simple enough. New potatoes, fresh runner beans and peas, with chopped shallots and dill , a light dressing of grapefruit vinegar and olive oil. With hard boiled eggs and a base of mixed green salad.

Fresh and lovely.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Chargrilled Sardines with samphire, peas and new potatoes - Sunday 15th July 2012

As I write this it is Monday evening. And still the house smells of grilled sardines. We have had doors and windows open, Febreze has been sprayed with wild abandon (even though I hate the chemical scent of it), all fishy things have been carefully wrapped and thrown away.  These delicious fish do not take olfactory prisoners, and are not something to cook the day before you have important visitors. So there, you have been warned..

But oh, they do taste delicious. Charred on a ridged grill pan, so that the skin is crispy. Served with something simple, sliced new potatoes cooked until almost tender, then fresh peas thrown in for five minutes and samphire for the last 30 seconds or so, drained and served with no other adornment but a slice or two of lemon.

Paella with Black Forest Ham - Saturday 14th July 2012

I love paella. And paella type rice dishes, even if they would anathema to a red-blooded Spaniard.  This is paella in my book as it cooked a) in a frying pan b) without stirring the rice around like a risotto c) it has saffron and peas in it d) it has parsley and lemon juice added at the end.

As well as the saffron and peas, this one has chopped roasted red peppers, edamame beans and shredded black forest ham added at the last minute.

Sausages with Mixed Beans and Beetroot tops - Friday July 13th 2012

It can be lovely to try new things, especially frugal things that might otherwise be thrown away.  I was lucky to get a fabulously fresh bunch of beetroot at a farm shop today, with their leaves all intact, and good and perky.  I had heard somewhere that you could cook beetroot leaves & stems, rather like swiss chard.

The leaves are rather like spinach, and like spinach are often filthy dirty in their wrinkles - the farmers don't expect us to eat them, so will certainly not waste good time and money in getting the leaves clean. Strip the green leafy part from the stems, keeping the stems aside, and finely slice them and give them a good soak in cold water. Before cooking them, they will need several more washes in clean water each time.  Cut the stems into 2-3 cm pieces, and lightly boil these for a short while.

Make a lentil and bean stew with some cubetti pancetta, chopped garlic, onion, celery and a chili, and a little spice of your choice, and then add the cooked stems at the end of the cooking.  Serve with grilled or oven baked sausages and the lightly boiled beet leaves.

Ratatouille with Penne Pasta - Thursday 12th July 2012

More leftovers to use up, this is yesterday's ratatouille, Sunday's last smidgeon of BBQ sauce, and an extra garlic bread from Sunday also.

The ratatouille warmed up with the BBQ sauce, tossed with penne pasta, the garlic bread baked, a little green salad on the side, lovely and as quick and frugal as you will get.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lovely Lamb Chops with Ratatouille & Rice - Wednesday 11th July 2012

Two fat luscious lamb chops, grilled until the fat is slightly charred. With ratatouille (but without the aubergines because there weren't any in the fridge) made with the last of the BBQ sauce and fragrant basmati rice.

Have you noticed that basmati rice is always described as fragrant?  It might be a cliché, but I love its smell whilst it is cooking: the name basmati actually comes from the Sanskrit for perfumed.

There you are, you learn something every time here.

Lovely Lamb Chops with Ratatouille & Rice

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Left overs - BBQ Chicken, Crushed Roast New Potatoes, Tomatoes & Broccoli - Tuesday 10th June 2012

Lovely left-overs. Great to have the main part of the cooking sorted, so you can just play about with the sides.  We had left over boiled new potatoes, broccoli and the chicken itself. Chicken just into the oven to heat through and crisp a bit. Potatoes, crushed a little, doused with olive oil, sage, agredulce smoked paprika and some of ToeZapper's 5P spice mix, roasted until nice and crispy. Broccoli just refreshed, and an extra side of roast tomatoes.

Shame there aren't more leftovers...

 BBQ Chicken, Crushed Roast Potatoes & Broccoli

Izzy's Birthday Dinner - BBQ Chicken and CAKE! Monday 9th July 2012

Rather nice dinner for the Amazing IzzyWizzy's 2nd birthday today.. My famous Barbecue Chicken taken from my very old Supercook books, this recipe has followed me through my life since the late 70s :))

It is the recipe for Barbecue Spareribs, but I always do it with chicken thighs and drumsticks. And I don't really follow the method much, I don't cook the sauce in advance, just whoosh everything together in the food processor. Tip it over the chicken, cover with foil, cook for an hour, take the foil off, cook another hour so slightly charred on the top.

 Barbecue Chicken with salad and new potatoes

 and followed by a rather luscious Very Chocolatey Cake.

Izzy loved the cake :-)

Here she is enjoying herself

Mixed Grains & Chickpea Salad - the main course on Saturday 7th July 2012

After the delicious asparagus starter, we weren't all that hungry, so a light but sustaining salad of Pedon 5 grains - my latest favourite grain salad base . Into the bowl with the last of the chickpeas from Thursday, radishes, chopped parsley, tomatoes, red peppers, red onion, and a good white balsamic vinegar dressing.

Easy, quick, cheap and filling.

Last of the English asparagus - the starter on Saturday 7th July 2012

I had one last bunch of English asparagus left, that I just wanted to savour. There won't be any more this year, so it is goodbye until next year. Simple job then. Lightly boiled (just a couple of minutes, no more, I can't abide overcooked asparagus, it loses everything that makes it wonderful...) a goodly dollop of mayonnaise, some little smoked salmon canapés, that Bob picked up on the cheaps counter, and some fingers of toast made from homemade Milk Bread, made a stunning little starter.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad with Cheesy Puffs - Thursday July 5th 2012

Lovely light salad today, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and coriander, dressed with chilli and lime juice, with a nice bright green salad, sautéed potatoes and puff pastry strips covered with grated Gruyère cheese.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad with Cheesy Puffs 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Monkfish Roasted in Pancetta with Asparagus, Edamame and Pea Risotto - Weds 4th July 2012

Delicious fishy dinner, a tail of monkfish filleted and wrapped in pancetta, roasted and then finished under the grill to crisp the pancetta. Still wasn't crispy enough for my liking when I'd finished, but the fish was getting close to being overdone, so I stopped.

Risotto was delicious, simple risotto bianco with peas, edamame beans and asparagus added in the last 2 or 3 minutes to lightly steam. Butter but no cheese.

Monkfish Roasted in Pancetta with Asparagus, Edamame and Pea Risotto

Salad with Puy Lentil, Whole Grains, Bayonne Ham, Salami - Tues 3rd July 2012,

Salad today, puy lentils and 5-grains, mixed with tomatoes, radishes, lots of herbs and fresh lettuce, with Bayonne ham and Salami shredded and mixed through.

Salad with Puy Lentil, Whole Grains, Bayonne Ham, Salami

Gressingham Duck Sausages with sauteed courgettes and asparagus - Monday July 2nd 2012

I hadn't seen these Duck sausages before but decided to try them as I love duck in any shape or form. Very tasty, succulent and sticky.

Gressingham Duck Sausages with sauteed courgettes and asparagus

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sunday Lunch with Cheryl - Sunday 1st July 2012

Fab Sunday spent with the lovely Cheryl Cohen @queenofmarkets , the face of London Farmer's Markets . We were supposed to have been collecting wild cherries, and making sundry things with them. But the pigeons (or other people) had got there first, so we only came home with a small bunch of late elderflowers.

Cheryl made a gorgeous lunch, a Roast chicken and torn bread salad I had been eyeing up in Skye Gyngell's A Year in My Kitchen, and which was amazingly good.

With some fabulous tomatoes from one of her markets,

homemade elderflower cordial with borage flower icecubes.

And frozen yoghurt with raisins soaked in Pedro Ximenez sherry, and homemade almond shortbread biscuits.

I was so bowled over by all the trouble Cheryl went to. A stunningly beautiful and delicious lunch, and I enjoyed every single mouthful.

Thank you again Cheryl :)

Roast Chicken & torn bread salad, with sour cherries and roasted red onions

Picota Cherry & Greek Yoghurt dessert - Saturday 30th June 2012

I love cherries, and I think that the English season is going to be appallingly bad this year due to the cold and rain.  So I am delighting in the crisp juicy Picota cherries from Spain.

 I was sent a gift sample, which I wolfed down, and ran straight to Morrison's to get some more.  Simply stoned, with raspberries and blueberries, a sprinkling of some sloe vodka I made last year (use any liqueur you fancy, kirsch is good & so is plain old sherry)  and a fat dollop of delicious Total Greek Yoghurt with flaked almonds.

Pork Loin Steak with Roast Veg & fresh tomato sauce - Saturday June 30th 2012

Saturday was a busy day, but I found time to try out a simple quick brining tip I picked up from Francis at The FaB Food Blog - simple and nice and quick. The pork was still not as tender as my beloved slow cooked pork belly, but less like the sole of a boot than has been known in the past.

With it, some simple roasted vegetables, aubergine, peppers, courgettes, onions and garlic, tossed in a lovely Carib spice mix kindly sent from @Toezapper The Spice Dog  ( he makes amazing spice blends, not yet available commercially, so I am very happy to have got my little hands on some) with salt and olive oil. And a light tomato sauce, just onions, canned plum tomatoes and a little salt and Toezapper 5P pepper mix, simmered until thick..  Yummy.