Sunday, 30 June 2013

Prawn. Pea and Leek Risotto ... and a Fruity Tart Saturday June 29th 2013

Fab afternoon at Auntie Maureen's Gourmet Food Fair held at the Bell Walthamstow as part of the Appetite festival, and I bought a variety of bits and bobs, including two very luscious fruit tarts from Aura Rosa Bespoke cakes: one strawberry one and a mixed fruit one with a glorious topping of meringue and a surprise HUGE blackberry inside..

Preceded by possibly my favourite summer meal, prawn risotto with a splash of Pernod to bring the Mediterranean sunshine to my plate.  I explained my method in great detail over on A Greedy Piglet, so go have a look and ogle the odalisque.


Friday, 28 June 2013

Gammon Steak, how retro! Thursday June 27th 2013

A grilled gammon steak is so out of fashion, only to be found in the most un-gastro of pubs, topped with a pineapple ring from a can, or a fried egg.

But it is a deeply savoury, deliciously easy dinner as well. And if bacon is so fashionable, why not bring back gammon?

A tip - use kitchen scissors to snip through the fat around the outside, cutting through a band of tissue that lies just below the fat, that way the meat won't buckle and curl under the grill.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Stuffed Breads - Wednesday June 26th 2013

I was practicing today for the Essex Food Festival baking competition, one of which is for a savoury filled loaf. I am assuming that the filling has to be baked in, rather than just filling it like a sandwich...

Anyway, I digress. The breads were therefore the main event, one with pesto/pinenuts/provolone cheese and the other with polish Wiejska sausage/tapenade/provolone cheese. Both the doughs followed Carla Tomasi's Italian enriched dough recipe as detailed in my Storify post about it. 

With some extra cheese and sausage, some left over saucisson sec from the other day, and a bit of salad, it was a fine rough and ready dinner.

The breads?  The flatter one was ok, but had baked a bit hard. The rolled one was better. I really wasn't sure about the fillings, but today the pesto one is much nicer, more mellow, really good cut and toasted. I fed the remains of the flat one to the neighbourhood fox, but really should have kept it and seen how that matured as well. Oh well.

Still nearly three weeks to carry on playing with doughs and fillings to get to something I will be proud to enter :)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Eating out at The Bell @bell_e17 Tuesday June 25th 2013

I love our Tuesday Nights Out, we go to The Bell in Walthamstow for a fiendish quiz run by Rowan McIntyre (he of the dark brown voice... ) , and have taken to eating there before the fun begins.

Tonight I had the grilled chicken thighs with broccoli, mange tout and new potatoes, followed by pannacotta with summer berries... mmmmm.

We didn't win the quiz, but hey! who worries?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Italian Style Braised Beef with Gremolata. Monday June 2013

Gosh it's chilly.... but it is still Mediterranean week. So we are in Italy today.

This is braised beef in the style that my Mother-in-law Mafalda made, and showed me how to get the right flavour.

1) onion garlic and celery are your aromatics.
2) after browning the meat add white wine, boil it away, then add milk, and boil most of that away, and then add your tomatoes. You won't need sugar as the milk sugars will temper the acidity of the tomatoes.

I also added a chopped red pepper and finished cooking in the pressure cooker for 20 mins before taking the top off and reducing in the open pan.

3) finish off with gremolata- chopped parsley, lemon zest and raw garlic.

Pungent and fragrant and I love it :)

Grilled Sea Bream with pilaff and salad. Sunday June 24th 2013

I am still in Mediterranean mode... (take THAT you grey, sad weather, you....) and this is very much a fish of the Med.

Easy preparation, just gut, scale and cut the fins off (or ask your fishmonger to do it for you :) then slash the sides a couple of times to allow the heat to penetrate. A drizzle of oil, salt and pepper and 20 minutes in the oven on high heat, then finish off under the grill to crisp up the delicious skin.

And whilst it is in the oven, make the pilaf.

Saute one small red onion in a little olive oil, add one cup of basmati rice (a teacup for two, a mug for four people is about right) then using the same size cup or mug, add one and half times the volume of rice in boiling water, a teaspoon  of stock powder (I used Essential Cuisine fish stock powder for this, but if you want to serve with meat use any meat or veggie powder you like to use, or even just half an ordinary stock cube), a good handful of shredded coriander.

Bring it back to the boil, clap the lid on and reduce the heat right right down, and cook for about 12-15 minutes until the rice is done as you like it, and all the water is absorbed.

A bit of green salad and there you are!

Just want some sunshine now.........

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Minestrone and Pear Gorgonzola & Maple Glazed Walnut Salad - Saturday June 22nd 2013

I'm still trying to pretend it is summer..... and that I am somewhere in the Mediterranean.  It is not really working but this dinner can only help..

Italy as a starter..... Minestrone first, easy in the pressure cooker, longer cooking veg with pancetta and canellini beans first, then the quicker cooking green beans and peas, and the soup pasta for another 10 mins. I used the spinach raw stirred into the hot soup like a herb at the end so it doesn't go slimey.

Then a salad that I am not sure where it would come from, probably somewhere to the north of France, though I am using Gorgonzola so will pretend it is further south. It is a reprise of the Pear and Gorgonzola salad I had a couple of weeks ago, but I glazed the walnuts with maple syrup. 

Oh yes!! yummy.... 

Saucisson sec salad - Friday June 21st 2013

So the South of France sunshine has gone, and we have English damp and grey summer instead. But does that stop me having a sunny salad?  Does it heck!!

It was to have been a salad nicoise but at the last minute I subbed saucisson sec for the tuna... yummy!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Spaghetti with Pesto and Fresh Tomatoes - Thursday June 20th 2013

Did you miss me? Did you have to think of dinners all by yourself? Well never mind, I'm back to tickle your tastebuds again now :)

And if you are good, I might show you some inspirational summer photos of the last week in Menton. Including dinners :)

So first day back Thursday, not a lot of shopping in, so just basic spaghetti, pesto, fresh chopped tomatoes and olives. With a few croutons scattered on for good luck.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Leftover soup and leftover cold meat.. but still good! Monday June 10th 2013

It is nice to find sufficient leftovers not just for lunch, but for dinner for the two of us.  And thus it was today...

A large bowl of chickpea and vegetable soup from the gammon on Saturday, and cold Gammon plus Portuguese Roast Pork from yesterday, with red cabbage and carrot homemade coleslaw on the side.

If you have never made home made coleslaw do give it a try - I wrote about it in more detail at the beginning of last year, linking up to Linda at Goodshoeday who gave a blueprint for how to make coleslaw in all its variety.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Portuguese Roast Pork - so good! Sunday June 9th 2013

I love this way of cooking pork, works best with pork loin, for pork belly and shoulder I have long cooked methods I prefer for those rich meats, but this citrus marinade helps tenderise what can be a slightly tough cut of meat.

Firstly, make your marinade.

Take 2 peeled and chopped cloves of garlic,1 tsp salt, half tsp pepper. Using a mortar and pestle, grind to a paste.

Add 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of white wine or dry sherry, the juice of a lemon and the juice of an orange, and mix together.

Pour this over your loin of pork joint in a small roasting pan - make sure it has no rind, and remove it if it has - don't throw it away, freeze it to add richness to stews and soups. Cover in cling film and marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours.

It will need roughly 1-1.5 hours in a medium oven. When you come to cook it, remove the cling film and add a chopped tomato and an ounce or so of unsalted butter. Roast uncovered, basting from time to time.

Rest it for 10 minutes before serving in very thin slices. Whilst it is roasting, bring the cooking juices to a simmer, remove any singed bits of tomato, turn off the heat and whisk in a slice or so more unsalted butter to thicken the sauce.

Do give it a go, it is really really good!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Gammon bowl... Saturday June 8th 2013

Out all day today, so I came home tired and hungry, root vegetables in the fridge chopped quickly and thrown into the pressure cooker with a small joint of gammon and a can of chickpeas, 40 minutes later dinner on the table.

Wham bam thank you ma'am.

Pear and Gorgonzola salad with toasted pine and walnuts - Friday June 7th 2013

I recently received a lovely gift of some South African apples and pears, and used one of the crisp golden delicious apples in the Lincolnshire poacher salad on Wednesday.  Which was rather good and fresh and tasty, and I decided to echo that salad using one of the blush pears and a little piece of Gorgonzola I had in the fridge.

Topped with toasted pine kernels and walnuts, and a little drizzle of mustard dressing, this was sweet and sharp and smooth all at once. Wonderful.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Lincolnshire Poacher, Apple and Chicory Salad Wednesday June 5th 2013

When we had dinner at Boyd's last week, one of the little tapas starters I particularly liked was sliced apple and Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, with chicory leaves. 

I found some Lincolnshire Poacher cheese at Waitrose, so decided to upscale the dish and make it a main meal, with the addition of a few walnuts for extra protein.  I've no idea what Boyd's put in their dressing, but mine is mayo, whole grain mustard, and a little oil and rice vinegar to loosen it, then drizzled over the apples and cheese.

Really good, the sweetness of the apple and the sharpness of the chicory are lovely with the bite of the cheese and the walnuts. Five star!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Fancy some cakes to go with all this dinner?

Do you fancy some cakes?

I usually make cakes for taking to my mum, or for just eating in the afternoon with a cup of tea, so they rarely get shown here. But there are some lovely new ones over on my other blog A Greedy Piglet... why not go and have a look, and do let me know what you think!

More Salad Days...Ft Cold Things... Saturday June 1st and Monday June 3rd 2013

Cupping that lovely Sunday dinner like two hands were two Salad days.

Relaxing lazy meals.

Smoked Mackerel and HB Eggs on Saturday...

And Cold Chicken with griddled courgettes on Monday...

Roast Chicken Sunday Dinner... Sunday June 2nd 2013

I am rather in love with chicken thighs at the moment, cheap, easy to cook, and tender.  This Sunday dinner isn't a whole roast chicken then, it is a chicken thigh, sprinkled with lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt and a little brown sugar.  With Italian style roast potatoes, cut small and roasted with olive oil and rosemary. 

The stuffing? Nice basic Paxo Sage and Onion, but with a little added butter, some added thyme and a chopped and fried mini chorizo.

Sunday Dinner. Oh yes.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Another Fish Pie, A BIG Salad & Two Meals Out! Tuesday to Friday May 29th - 31st 2013

Two meals out, and two 5:2 fasting days to make up for them... that's the way to do it!

Monday's pilaf was fasting day one... and Friday's Big Salad (not calorie counted, but only one meal that day) , with Wednesday's Fish Pie, reprising the Famous Winning Fish Pie of last Thursday being sandwiched by another Veggie Board and a Bray's Cottage Pork Pie at the Bell E17 (for the quiz where we came sort of somewhere in the middle....) on Tuesday and a rather nice day out on Friday, with coffee and cake at the Delaunay Counter on the Aldwych in Central London, then pre-theatre dinner at Boyd's Brasserie at Trafalgar Square before seeing Sean Hughes in Life Becomes Noises at the Arts Theatre - good little show that, I would recommend it.

So: from the top then:

Tuesday: Veggie Board and a Bray's Cottage Pork Pie at the Bell E17. We had this last week before the quiz and fancied it again. It's very good value and plenty for two.

We didn't leave much........ it is rather tasty ...

Wednesday: Another Fish Pie... equally as yummy as before, but I fancied a little bit plainer, so just coley, egg and big fat prawns this time. With Halen Mons smoked water adding that extra oomph.

Day out up Town...

Started out with afternoon coffee and Black Forest Gateau at the Delaunay. This is the BEST chocolate and cherry cake I have ever had I think. The cake is soft delicate and chocolatey and there is lots of cream and cherry in every mouthful.

Of course, if you don't fancy Black Forest Gateau in all its decadent retroism, you can have something else.. or maybe something else as well.... it's all very tempting.


Onwards then to dinner at Boyd's, Now I rarely take pictures in restaurants, as I don't want to look too bloggity to other diners, but it was early, with very few other people around us, so I made sure the sound and flash were off and snapped away.

So please excuse the slightly grainy pics, which were rather dark, so I've brightened them up a bit for here, but the dishes are as they came to table, not prinked and moved about. I really would be too embarrassed to do that...

4 Tapas style starters to share, then Bob had salmon and I had steak and kidney pie, all from the rather reasonable pre-theatre menu.

Sadly the dish we both really fancied, a chicken and tarragon ballontine was off the menu, and had been replaced with the steak pie. Which was ok but...

The meat was tender and well trimmed, but the pastry lid had been cooked separately and popped on top to serve. I HATE THAT!!! Most of the point of a pie is the melding of the pastry and the filling. If you cook them separately you just have a stew and a lump of dry, flaky stuff. Not a pie. And to be honest, something I would expect in a very ordinary pub, not a restaurant.

Look, this is the UNDERSIDE... no gravy.. nothing to stop it flaking into shards that stuck to the top of my mouth....

Rant over. Until next time...The chicken would have been much nicer I am sure.. :(

Friday: home and another fasting day. After eating quite a bit yesterday, I was starving today. It is quite odd, that eating makes you hungry the following day, whilst NOT eating you can happily have very little and be happy. Surely your stomach can't shrink that quickly!!

So a bigger plate of food that perhaps I should have had, but lots of green salad and no dressing except for a small spoonful of coleslaw.

And another week's dinners over !!