Friday, 11 September 2015

A Chicken and Avocado warm salad - A Bird in the Hand

I love, love, love chicken and avocado. Creamy smooth avos and deliciously juicy chicken thighs.



I am perhaps not as enamoured of quinoa, but in this recipe from Diana Henry's ace book, A Bird in the Hand, it works very well indeed, lifted as it is by the zingy lime and chili dressing.   I have the book, but you can find the recipe here, on Delicious magazine's website:


It is rather a shame that I can't get the same lighting and brightness to my picture of my dinner.. but then, as I've said before, it is just dinner, the photo taken on my table before I eat it, so I shouldn't whine too much. Oh, and it was taken on my phone, so I could instagram it... perhaps not the best thing as the light gets darker with autumn arriving. Back to double photoing with camera and phone, and a colder dinner, I guess.

Result was less faff than it looks on paper, very delicious, and to be made again. Time taken (if you ignore the time for the tomatoes, though they probably needed less in my oven, they came out slightly singed rather than just caramelised. I am still soaking the burnt bits off the roasting pan...) about half an hour including prep, so not bad at all.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

More lamb.. are you a breast or a leg person?

Fabulous breast of lamb from Layer Marney lamb, bought at the Essex Food festival. Glorious.

Rough recipe?

Roll up breast of lamb (I cut whole breast into two, and rolled these up separately, cooks a bit quicker) . 

Put on top of sliced onions in pan. 

Half cover with lamb gravy (best use E Cuisine Home Chef lamb stock cos its the only lamb stock worth using) put in oven gas mk 4, covered with foil. 

Bake for 3 hours, basting from time to time. 

Take out, rest, and while it is resting, add 1 tablespoon of blackberry vinegar and reduce until syrupy. Onions will have melted into the gravy. 

Cut each half breast into two pieces and put on plate, cover with gravy. 

Eat.
A photo posted by Lynne Clark (@josordoni) on

Monday, 10 August 2015

Lamb and salad. Slam it in!

A photo posted by Lynne Clark (@josordoni) on

I have been posting my dinners on Instagram and couldn't work out what to do to get them here for you too.. well I have at least discovered (if it works) how to embed the picture here.

Today's dinner was a 20 minute marvel. Lamb steak tossed in lemon juice, seasoning, mediterranean herbs and olive oil, grilled and served on a salad mainly consisting of fine green beans, broccoli, cucumber and little gem lettuce. Simple.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

I'm on Instagram too now!

I'm so sorry I've been missing in action again... happens from time to time that life gets in the way of telling you about my dinner.

BUT.... I have been using Instagram lately, since I got a new phone that allows me to. (my old  one would only let me post pictures of dinosaurs) so do come over there and check out my quick snaps.

Mostly food, but sometimes other bits and pieces I like.

And I promise you more dinners here soon. 


Come and see me here:

  Instagram

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Diana Henry's "A Bird in the Hand" - Chicken with anchovies, lemon and rosemary

It is a long story , the one about waiting to get hold of Diana Henry's fabulous cookery book A Bird in the Hand



Three copies the publisher sent to me, three copies disappeared into the black hole that is Royal Mail. But eventually it and I were united, and I was finally a happy chick.

I gave the honours of first choice to Bob, and he homed in on Chicken with anchovies, lemon and rosemary.  It is not dissimilar to my favourite Spezzatina, made with anchovies and vinegar, but this one has onions (should have been shallots, but I didn't have any) and wine, and is topped with lemon and garlic - I added parsley to that mixture, to make a classic Italian gremolata, which I love. 

It came out beautifully. Apart from the little tweaks above (and where would I be if I didn't tweak) I followed the recipe, and it came out just as it should. 






We had roast Italian style potatoes and fresh, lightly blanched spring greens and it was gorgeous. And easy!! Hurray for easy! 


disclaimer: I was sent a review copy, but I did the cooking, the eating and the writing! 

Red Cooked Pork and Carrots - Hong Shao Rou (紅燒肉)

I had a small piece of pork belly in the freezer, nice, but it was really too small to roast. What to do?

How about Chinese style? Red cooked pork is delicious, the fat and skin turn into a soy sauce tinted soft jelly that works wonderfully well with rice. I cooked sushi rice as I wanted something much stickier than basmati - I didn't have any other rice that would be sticky, and it worked excellently. I followed (roughly) this recipe - more for the method than for the quantities.  The blanching of the pork I only did for 10 minutes as I had already cut the pork into cubes and I added star anise and a few slices of ginger to the blanching water.

The rest of the ingredients are as per the recipe, except that I increased (roughly doubled) the amount of dark and light soy sauce, and used dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine as I didn't have that in stock.  I also added carrots to increase the amount of veggies, (that was a suggestion in my Ken Lo Chinese cookery book) which worked really nicely.


A warning though - when they say that the pork spatters when you are caramelising it with the oil and sugar they are right. Wrap a tea-towel around your hand and tilt the pan away from you when you are stirring the pork, or you will have a blister on your hand like I do.. :(

I didn't take the sauce right down to a sticky coating as I wanted some gravy to go with the rice. I served it with the sticky rice and finely sliced spring greens stir fried with grated ginger,  finely chopped chili (just a little) and oyster sauce and scattered with sliced spring onions.

Delectable and one for the recipe file I think :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Fridge picnic... with Yoghurt Crusty Bread

I had made some bread. Easy delicious yoghurt bread, which is my favourite at the moment, and I really couldn't be bothered to have anything difficult alongside it for dinner.

So to the fridge... I found:

2 Peppers
half an aubergine
2 courgettes

A couple of tomatoes and half a cucumber

Cheese.

Half a jar of giardinera pickles

I cut the peppers/aubergine/courgettes in strips and drizzled them with oil, dried oregano and salt and pepper and popped them in a very hot oven for half an hour, then let them cool.

Everything else just went on a plate. Fridge picnic day :)




Monday, 6 April 2015

Pork and bacon meatballs... mmmmmm

Meatballs are so good, whether made of beef, lamb or in this case pork.  I found a pack of pork mince in the Sainsbury's cheaps counter for only 30p so I had to buy it didn't I!

I sauted a finely chopped onion with some chopped streaky bacon and added it to the pork with salt, pepper, fried sage and an egg yolk.  Squished together my hands but not too much,  the mixture should stay fairly loose or the balls will be heavy. Wet your hands before making the meat balls, it stops the mixture from sticking to your fingers. Make balls about the size of a ping pong ball and chill for 10 mins in the fridge.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the meat balls until they are golden all over and then transfer to a baking tray and cook in a medium oven for another 10 minutes or so. They will keep in a low oven for another 10 minutes or so if you need to delay them until the rest is cooked.

They are good with tomato sauce and pasta, or any mixture of roast vegetables, but today I fancied some mashed potatoes.

I made a simple sauce of the meat juices with some chicken stock, capers and grainy mustard, and served with Bramley apple sauce and fresh veg on the side.




Crispy Skinned Salmon with Green Curry broth and steamed veggies

It was fish day of course on Good Friday. Salmon, pan fried in a little olive oil on the skin side until it is really crispy and you can see that the fish is cooked about half way up the side. Then take the pan away from the heat and turn the fish over to rest and finish cooking while the veggies steam.

You can see how the fish is JUST cooked through, but not at all powdery. This is the best way to cook salmon in my opinion, oven baked is hard to judge when the fish is cooked and it is so easy to overcook and ruin it, turning it into pink cotton wool.


I made a laksa type broth of coconut milk and green Thai curry paste with fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Added two packs of ready to heat Udon noodles (my favourite noodles, thick and toothsome, I love them added to broth or fried, Amoy do them in packets easily available at most supermarkets)

The broth went into bowls, with a mixture of mange touts, broccoli, baby corn and pak choi which I had steamed piled on top and the salmon finally with the skin uppermost to keep it crisp. A scattering of chopped spring onions and coriander and we're done.
I love a 10 minute dinner!!









I love a 10 minute dessert too - we had a quick lemon and sherry syllabub (just lemon juice and sherry, a little sugar and a small pot of double cream mixed together and whipped until softly peaky) mixed with crushed meringue and raspberries, piled into a (bought) meringue nest. Yummy!!


Friday, 3 April 2015

Lentils and eggs

An easy fridge and cupboard meat free day of a little chopping and slicing, and very little cooking.



I used a can of Merchant Gourmet Puy lentils as the base for this salad, and added some julienned raw carrot, finely sliced and blanched flat beans, chopped coriander leaves, hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado, finely chopped red onion, and some halved cherry tomatoes. 

The dressing was simple, olive oil with lime juice and salt. I didn't add any chili this time, but a finely chopped red chili would go beautifully.

And that is it!! all in the 8 minutes it took to cook the eggs.. :)


Chicken and anchovies... mmmmmmm

Chicken and anchovies. Oh so good... I explained how to make it back in 2013, and can't believe it is that long since we had it! Reminding myself of delicious dinners was the main reason that I started this blog, and it is times like this when it proves to be very useful indeed.

Of course, there are problems when you go to the fridge for the jar of anchovies you know are there, and suddenly remember that you ate them the week before.. but ... aha! there is that tube of anchovy paste that you bought last year in case of running out of anchovies in a jar ..now is that time :)

So go read the other recipe, and then sub a worm of anchovy paste about 3 ins long instead of the 5 anchovy fillets, all the rest is the same!


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Baked cod with Herby Sourdough Crumbs and Cider Beurre Blanc


Three things I adore... Chunky cod, herby crumbs and beurre blanc.

Crumbs to top fish are so easy to make, and they add a really excellent texture to the softness of the fish.  They are just as good on a rack of lamb, or a vegetable gratin, so they are a useful thing to know how to make.

I had made some sourdough semolina bread... it was alright, but I wouldn't say it was amazing flavourwise.  Look.. it looks lovely doesn't it!


But it had almost no flavour and I was looking for a lovely wheaty depth from the semolina with just a tiny bit of sourdough tang. It had neither. It was just meh. So into the food processor it went and out came lovely chunky crumbs that I knew would be really crunchy when baked.

It is a matter of moments, though you probably do need a food processor or liquidiser to make the fresh breadcrumbs - sourdough isn't essential, I've even used packaged sliced bread to make this if that is all I have. In extremis you could use panko breadcrumbs though they won't have quite the right texture.

Finely chop and sweat an onion in a little oil -  don't let it brown - and then add a couple of ounces of butter and let that melt off the heat.  Add in enough breadcrumbs to make a sandy mixture.
Finely chop a fat handful of parsley - curly or flat leaf are both good - and add that with salt and pepper to the crumbs.

Grease a piece of parchment paper and lay the skinned fish fillets on it in a shallow baking dish.  Cover the fish with the crumbs patting them into place but not pushing them too flat, you want to keep the light crunch, not squash the bread into a flat pastry.  Bake the dish for 15 minutes then rest for a couple of minutes in a turned out oven whilst you make the beurre blanc sauce. Your fish should flake beautifully, and be lovely and pearly just like in the posh cookery shows..


It is rare that I bake or fry white fish without serving beurre blanc with it. The creamy yet sharp sauce brings out the very best in haddock or cod.   For this sauce I used cider, as I had it handy, but white wine is just as good.

Very finely chop a shallot and put into a small saucepan. Add a glass of white wine or cider and half a glass of white wine or cider vinegar. Don't season at this stage. Bring to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce to about 3 tablespoons.  Off the heat, add around 70 grams of unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and swirl the pan to melt the butter into the reduced wine. Add a finely chopped handful of parsley or dill - or chervil if you can get it - and season to taste - I used a good pinch of Essential Cuisine fish stock powder.  Use fairly quickly whilst the butter is still creamy.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Chicken and mushroom frying pan paella

I love a paella. I make it quite differently to a risotto, although I use the same rice in both (Carnaroli risotto rice for preference).   It is drier, less aromatic, with stronger meat and saffron flavours, and more veg of course.

I reckon tonight's had a good 5 portions of veggies, and only a small amount of meat. 2 chicken thighs and 3 rashers of streaky bacon for the two of us in fact.





I explained over on A Greedy Piglet how I make paella, this one didn't have any shellfish, and had extra green beans and mushrooms. 

It also had a lovely saffron flavour - I picked up on a sample offer on Twitter from Premier Saffron, and they sent me two samples of Iranian saffron powder, each sufficient for one dish. I infused the saffron in the stock without heating it first as it was powder rather than stamens (more than likely it started out as stamens, but the samples are most likely the smaller pieces that can't be sold. Saffron is, after all, the world's most expensive spice), and it really didn't look very strong at all. But as I cooked the paella, the colour and the scent intensified and the scant quarter teaspoonful was about sufficient.

I might have used a little more, as I like the metallic, iron filings flavour of saffron, but for many people that is offputting.  A little goes a long way as this proves.

Next sample I think will be another go at Scandilicious' saffron flavoured Sta Lucia buns..








Bangers and mash and balsamic onion gravy... oh yes!!

Chipolatas, finely shredded spring greens (because it is spring! ), creamy mashed potatoes and balsamic onion gravy.. oh yes!



You could say I cheated on the gravy I guess, but sausages aren't the easiest things to make gravy from the meat juices, as there aren't any. I used some Essential Cuisine beef gravy as the thickener and this added a lot of flavour too. I also had a small amount of their Pork Glace and added that for even more richness. I am a big fan of Essential Cuisine's stocks and these gravies and glaces are really useful additions to my larder. The glaces in particular are things that would only be found in restaurant kitchens until a short while ago, and I simply love them. They add a lot of intensity in just a little spoonful.

Anyway, less of the infomercial and more of the recipe...

Sliced onions. I used just the one for the two of us, that was plenty oniony enough.

Sweat it down in some olive oil, don't let it brown.

Add some beer or cider if you have some hanging around, (I had the last bit of a glass of IPA from the night before so chucked it in) and some vegetable or beef stock to cover.

Add a good slug of white balsamic vinegar. If you don't have white, use cider or white wine vinegar and a spoonful of sugar rather than the dark vinegar which I find too strong in flavour. I use white balsamic vinegar for all kinds of cooking uses, and for salad dressings too, another thing always useful in the cupboard.

Thicken with your choice of gravy powder or granules. Allow to simmer for a few minutes and check the seasoning.

Pour over your sausages :)


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Leftovers ... and a sausage or two...

Leftovers. Not just rough scraps that are left over, but good stuff that has gained even more flavour in the fridge...

Mafalda's stew, seme de melone pasta, and a sausage or two.

What not to like?


Sunday, 15 March 2015

for Mother's Day... My Italian Mother In Law's Beef Stew RIP Mafalda

My Italian mother in law was a wonderful cook. Apart from when she tried highly experimental magazine recipes on us, with sometimes disastrous results (I will never forget (nor anyone else..) the crab stuffed pancakes whose filling resembled something the cat had brought up. (She used tinned brown crab. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.) Not a wild success for a Sunday dinner for the entire assembled family).

 But if she made Italian dishes, she was on safe ground. This stew was a particular favourite of hers. She would serve this with polenta for preference (the white one only really eaten in her North Eastern top corner of Italy) but as my husband has a true loathing of "that muck" we had it with seme di melone pasta - Melon Seeds, very similar to orzo but rounder larger and flatter.





I also slow roasted some pepper strips at the same time as the stew, on a low shelf. You could add them into the stew, but I think they tend to disappear, and I prefer them cooked separately


The thing that makes Mafalda's stews and ragus different to English stews is the way she used wine and milk before adding stock and tomato. It is added after the wine has reduced, and mixed with that acidity, curdles slightly but still tenderises the meat and softens and smooths out the flavour of the sauce.

 Italian Beef Stew

Olive oil to cover the bottom of your pan
Chopped celery, onion and carrot
Chopped streaky bacon or pancetta cubes
Shin of Beef cut into 2 in cubes

Cup of white wine or dry cider
slug of madeira or marsala
Cup of full cream milk - you can use semi or skimmed milk if that is all you have, but it is MUCH better with full cream.

beef stock
can of chopped tomatoes
dried thyme

 gremolata:
chopped Italian parsley
chopped raw garlic
finely grated lemon zest

Quantities: the quantities are entirely up to you, depending on how many you are cooking for. I cook this by eye and hunger,not by scales. It is good natured, and to be honest, whatever you do to it will not ruin it.

The basis for this stew is as ever the Italian trinity of chopped onion, celery and carrot - not too small as it is going to cook for some time. Sweat these gently in enough oil to lightly cover the base of an flame and ovenproof casserole, (or in a saucepan and then transfer to an ovenproof casserole for the long cook) along with a good handful of chopped bacon.

When the bacon is starting to sizzle remove to a plate leaving the bacon fat and oil in the pan. Toss the cubed beef in a little seasoned flour and fry in the residual oil. Don't crowd the pan, you want the cubes to be nicely chestnut brown in colour and they won't brown if you add to many at once, so brown them in batches if necessary.

 Add the vegetables back to the pan, along with all the batches of meat and any juices left on the plates. Add in the wine and madeira/marsala, raise the heat and allow to reduce to about half. Add the milk, and again, reduce to about half - don't worry if the milk goes curdled and lumpy it will smooth out in the main cook.

 Add the beef stock (enough to cover the meat by about an inch), tomatoes and dried thyme. Adjust the seasoning, bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to a low oven (Gas mk 3) and cook for 2 and a half hours. Remove the lid for a further half an hour whilst you cook some green veg and the pasta.

Serve sprinkled with gremolata - simply mix together the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. This is a wonderful addition to any rich stew.



 I hope you enjoy this, and think of your own Mother and Mother-in-Law whilst you tuck in :)


R.I.P. Mafalda.  



Turning cold again... you need this #vintage post!! Beef in Cider with Dripping Dumplings

There is no doubt that the warm weather last week was lovely.. shame it didn't last, but it does mean that we have a bit more time of eating stews before we lighten up totally for Spring.

Glancing through the blog, I saw this post from last year, which had truly spectacular dumplings. Try them and let me know what you think!

From March 2014

-------------------

 Stew... mmmm... Stew in cider ... double mmmmm... you just make normal stew, in your normal way, but replace half of the liquid with medium cider, preferably the cloudy sort.

I really like feather steak when I can get it, it has a seam of cartilege running down the middle, that cooks into the gravy giving it lots of flavour and body. If you can't get feather, then use any braising or shin of beef, and cook it gently for about 4 hours with some carrots and celery for lots of flavour.



Stew of course needs dumplings. Dumplings normally need suet. But when the shops are shut and you find the suet in the cupboard is very manky indeed, you get to thinking what you can use instead.

Butter would be both too soft and too rich. I could have used lard I guess, but suet is a very hard almost crystalline fat.

Dripping (the shop bought refined kind) is also very hard fat.

Grating fresh suet was the old fashioned way to use it.

Dripping can be grated... I asked on Twitter and Facebook if it would work.. have a go! people said.

I did . It did. It is better than suet!

Way to go me.


Dripping Dumplings for 2 greedy people or 4 ordinary ones.

  • 100g plain flour + one good teaspoon baking powder, or Self raising flour + extra quarter tsp baking powder
  • 50g refined dripping grated into the flour (or you can use packaged suet if you have some to use up before it goes manky)
  • Salt and pepper, herbs to taste - I used a good shake of thyme, and some chopped parsley
  • Cold water to mix. 

Mix the dripping, flour, baking powder,  seasoning and herbs  together in a bowl. Add water gradually , mixing lightly with a knife until the mixture comes together into a soft dough. Don't overmix, you are looking for a soft dough that just holds its shape, but incorporates all the flour.

Have the stew ready at a gentle boil (if you are cooking on the hob, or in a casserole dish you can't put directly onto the heat, you can strain the gravy from the stew into a saucepan and make the dumplings in that to ensure that the meat doesn't scorch then pop it all back into the stew afterwards), and drop the dumpling mix in by the spoonful, don't roll into balls, you will compress the mixture and make it heavy.  Cover the pan or the stew casserole, and either bring the heat down to a gentle simmer, or put the casserole back into the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes without taking the lid off (or you will lose the steam) and then check the dumplings by putting a knife into one and pulling it slightly apart so you can see that the middle is properly cooked.

You can serve now, or you can give it another 15 minutes in the oven to get a lightly crusty top on the dumplings. 


Friday, 20 February 2015

My version of Thai curry!! #JustAboutThai #OrientalNewYear

I am really really partial to a Thai curry, and thankfully, Bob, who dislikes Indian curries intensely, and doesn't like coconut in anything other than milk form, also loves them.

So for Chinese New Year, we didn't eat Chinese, instead we just stayed in that side of the world and ate Thai chicken curry, with boned skinned chicken thighs, red peppers and cubed aubergine.

It is lovely and quick, only taking about 20 mins in total. The chicken is poached in the aromatic broth of coconut milk, red Thai curry paste, garlic and ginger paste, finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, lots of fish sauce and sugar.   The veg are added in at the same time as the chicken, and it is finished with chopped fresh coriander and lime juice.

I like to serve it with the rice in a separate bowl, so I can taste the clean flavours of the curry and then have a mouthful of rice.



So good!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Another one tray Mediterranean dinner.. with pork meatballs and olives

That one tray Mediterranean veggie & sausage dinner from yesterday's post was so easy and successful, I returned to the tray and the veggies again. I had only used 6 sausages out of a pack of eight, so took the last two sausages out of their skins, mixed the sausagemeat into some pork mince and seasoned with thyme and smoked agridolce paprika, made the mix into meatballs and scattered over the outside edge - the centre cooks less than the outer edges in my oven, so I try to keep the centre only thinly covered.

Cherry plum tomatoes and black kalamata olives added for the last 10 minutes again.

Perfection in 45 minutes...



Sunday, 15 February 2015

Just chuck it in the oven...Sausages and mediterranean veggies

One baking sheet. One dish to wash up...





Sausages, peppers, courgettes, aubergines, onions, garlic, new potato wedges, chopped lemon. Tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, dried oregano. Onto the tray, into the oven at Gas Mk 7 (HOT) 40 mins, then scatter a few cherry tomatoes over the top, 10 minutes more and onto the plates.


Yummy --  there were two of us. We ate it all..... #GreedyPiglets

Valentine's Day dinner... fish and peaches...

Happy Valentine's Day for yesterday! 

We never go out for dinner on V Day, far too crowded with lovey dovery people who will probably have a row about the sheer expense of it all on the way home and spend the night on the sofa (well one of them anyway) ...

I like to cook something a little less basic on special days. Not restaurant-y, I can't plate up the way that my favourite restaurants can, so I just try for lovely flavours and something to go with a rather more expensive bottle of wine :)

Last night, we had smoked haddock (Bob's favourite fish) with wilted baby spinach, crispy bacon and roasted baby plum tomatoes.  Easy peasy, light as a feather and very delicious.   (the bacon was a bit over crisped, not quite burnt - though it certainly looks burnt in the photo!)




and for afters.. a luscious South African Peach Melba. 




Traditionally, the peach is served as a full half peach over the icecream, but I find that my spoon slides off this too easily, resulting in the peach-half skidding across the tablecloth. So I like to chop half a peach to put in the bottom and then slice the other half to go round the icecream. A blob of whipped cream or Greek yoghurt on top, a drizzle of fresh raspberry coulis and a sprinkling of chopped roasted hazelnuts.

 I could eat it all again right now!


Saturday, 14 February 2015

A slow cooker's soupy pride...

I don't use my slow cooker often enough.... I am not at all organised and forget until it is too late.  But this time, it all went to plan.

At the weekend, I found some veal rib bones at Lucy's Veal at Walthamstow Farmers' Market.  Not much meat on them, not enough to make bbq ribs, but they were exceedingly cheap and perfect for enriching a stock to cook root vegetables and pearl barley for soup.

The bones were too long for the slow cooker, so I hacked them in half, and then stacked them in the cooker with carrots, swede, onions, celery, turnips , a teaspoon of salt and a fat little bouquet garni of thyme, parsley and bay leaves.  I covered this with water - probably a good couple of litres, but I didn't measure it, I just covered the ingredients.

I left this to simmer on the high setting for around 6 hours.  The meat slipped off the bones now, so I took the bones out, removed the meat, flaked any edible meat from the cartilage, and added that back to the stock.  In the meantime, I had been soaking a mug full of pearl barley, and now added that into the pot with a drained can of butter beans.  I checked the seasoning.. it was rather light on meatiness so I added a couple of teaspoons of Essential Cuisine Veal Stock powder, which beefed (or rather vealed..) it up nicely. 

I used some of the veg and pearl barley as a side vegetable dish for some roast chicken.




Then mashed some of the veg into the stock to make a delicious thick brothy soup for lunch the next day.


Deliciously easy and I have loads left. I shall be eating soup for days!!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Simple Sausages and Mash.... nothing wrong with that!!

I've been lazy about putting pics up of the very simple dinners we have most of the time, but I really shouldn't be ashamed of basic food. There is nothing wrong with bangers and mash is there?

Especially not with huge, fat, buttery flat mushrooms... mmmmmmmm


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Heston's Pulled Pork... Slow Cooker Stylee

Family to dinner on Sunday, I fancied pulled pork with a lovely smooth spicey bbq sauce.  But my usual bbq recipe is too rich and tomato-ey for pulled pork, I wanted something with more zing and more vinegar.  My fab foodie friend Helen from The Foodie Gift Hunter suggested her go-to recipe from Heston. 

I NEARLY kept to his recipe, I didn't add in the golden syrup, and cut the sugar back a bit. And I gave the meat (a 2kg shoulder of pork, the skin removed rather than his shoulder steaks)  an initial blast in the oven to give a bit of colour to the fat, then moved it to a slow cooker and cooked for 3 hours on high, followed by 2 hours on low. Then back into the oven to crisp the fat further, and I tipped the juices into a saucepan and reduced them to a nice sticky glaze.

Gorgeous! Lots left over for Monday night too. 


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gnocchi with sausage meatballs!

We are eating from the fridge, freezer and cupboard today...being only two of us, we often end up using just three quarters of something for a meal, leaving not enough for a whole meal left maundering in the fridge. Salads and sauces need using up quickly, or they will end up in the bin, so a compound meal like this is quick and economical.

I have to use up:
a quarter of a pack of sausagemeat
few slices of Parma ham
few slices of Mortadella
half a tub of coleslaw
various nearly used up bags of salad
third of a bottle of spaghetti sauce (tomato & pancetta)
quarter of a can of chopped tomatoes
raggedy end of a supermarket basil plant
handful of button mushrooms
1 large tomato, still firm enough to slice (there were others too, but getting a bit soft, so they will be grilled for breakfast) 
end knuckle of a cucumber
the freezer and store-cupboard offer me:
green olives
parmesan cheese
home frozen from fresh potato gnocchi
Freshly made vinaigrette from olive oil and white balsamic vinegar

The sausage meat I made into little balls and fried, then combine with the tomato sauce and end of the can of tomatoes and simmer through whilst the gnocchi cook (only about 3 minutes straight into the boiling salted water from frozen) 

Meanwhile the bags of salad go into a bowl with the sliced raw mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and olives, to be served with the meat and coleslaw.

And it comes out like this...








Tuesday, 20 January 2015

a Fish Pie - one for you, one for me...

I usually make a big single fish pie for us, but this time decided to make individual ones.

I was trying out the Fish Pie mixed fish from Aldi, inexpensively prepacked with salmon, smoked haddock and cod ready cut into cubes. Not as inexpensive as I initially thought as there wasn't really that much fish.   Barely enough for the two of us. So to make sure that it was evenly shared, I made two pies. One each.



The way I make fish pie isn't tricksy, I poach the fish lightly in milk, use that milk to make a parsley sauce, mix fish and sauce, top with slice hard boiled eggs, and then with mashed potato. Flakes of butter on top, into the oven fast and furious and 15 minutes later (enough time for the green veg  - french beans and broccoli this time) on the table.



And we both got seconds from our little dishes :)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

a dinner of watercress - The Watercress Company

I was hugely pleased before Christmas to receive a sample pack ( A HUGE sample pack...) of the most delicious watercress from The Watercress Company .  I stuffed it into egg mayonnaise sandwiches,  I made huge beds of it under chargrilled steaks,  I made soup and kebabs with watercress salad and watercress rice. It is such a good salad vegetable and can also be used as a herb,  rather like you would parsley. I can't get enough of it.

The soup is simplicity itself, just some potato and leeks or onions simmered in stock until very tender, watercress then added (no weighing really, just trust your judgement as to how much you need, LARGE handfuls though, more than you think...it does wilt down. You want the soup to taste of watercress, not potato) and allowed to wilt down until softened. Then blitz with a hand blender until smooth (or use a normal blender).  It can be kept at this stage for a while and reheated just before serving.  Once reheated, check the seasoning, add another large handful of cress and blitz immediately. The raw cress will give the soup a wonderful bright green colour,and the flavour will be lively and hot and spicy.


The kebabs are simple, lamb cubes marinated in oil, lemon juice and oregano, skewered with peppers and onions and grilled until tender and well charred along the edges.  Whilst the lamb is cooking, cook basmati rice and steam to dry it off thoroughly. Before serving, use a fork (not a spoon) and mix in a good couple of handfuls of finely chopped watercress.



Healthy eating... not half!


it's just a bowl of soup.....

What vegetables have you got in the bottom of the fridge? Shred and chop them all!
Have you got any ham or bacon? Chop it up!
Noodles in the cupboard?  Bung them in!
water... a dollop of chicken stock powder.... simmer for half an hour.

Look..... soup!



Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year! Happy 2015 Dinners to us all...

Here's wishing us all a very Happy 2015 and lots of dinners to come this year.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the quick, easy dinners I have eaten this year. I have been eating really boring things this winter, that haven't merited any blog posts, but I will try harder in 2015, I promise!

(Don't forget to check out my other blogs: A Greedy Piglet (for recipes) and A Greedy Piglet - the sidebar (for reviews and short notes)  )


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