Do not be alarmed!
Like a lot of people, we found ourselves eating up all sorts of bits and pieces after Christmas. We bought sprouts onnastalk for our festive dinner of roast goose, cooked a load up for the meal and subsequent bubble ‘n’ squeak, and then … forgot all about them. I’d stashed the stalk in the log store, and only remembered it on 8 Jan! But they were fine, bless them. I don’t understand why people don’t like sprouts – they’re only teeny, tiny cabbages, after all. We 💛 ’em.
So, I chopped a red onion, and sliced a fat carrot into thin batons. These, together julienned ginger and garlic, were stirfried together in a hot wok for a few minutes. Then, I sliced/diced the sprouts and added them to the wok for a couple of minutes more, add soya sauce, and a handful of flaked almonds.
Served with egg noodles cooked with a teaspoon of sesame oil in the water. Quick, delicious.
I found a bag of unlabelled … something in the freezer. It looked quite chickenish, and I assumed that it was a brace of chicken breasts. Anyhoo, out it came, with a vague plan to stuff with blue cheese. I was quite surprised post thawing to find that the bag in fact contained four chicken thighs, boned and skinned. Not really suitable for stuffing with anything.
Quick change of plan, then – I mixed some olive oil, sage*, salt, pepper and lemon juice, and basted the chicken with it, then put it in a foil-lined baking dish (saves washing up, if not the planet) at 180C.
Then I made a mushroom sauce thus:
A finely chopped shallot saluted down in olive oil, added thinly sliced mushrooms and cooked on low heat till they were nice and soft. Salt, pepper, splash of dry sherry, garlic powder, some cream that was nearly sour.
Took the chicken out of the oven after about twenty minutes, let it rest, gave some to the cats, and sliced the remainder into strips, which I added to the sauce. Ate with rice – delicious.
* I started a new garlic powder, so took the lid off the finished one, and threw the empty glass jar into the recycling. As I did so, I heard a little swoosh sound, as the last of the sage went into the recycling. Bugger.
I nipped (or popped) up to Iceland for some porridge oats. I know, I know, they’re much more expensive, but they are on the doorstep, and time is money and all that.
I also came home with two packs of 2 x pasties for £2, two packs of sliced cheese (I like this for portion control) for £2, two packs of cold meat for £3, the aforementioned porridge, some milk, and a pack of chicken wings for £1.89.
We finished the last of a two week pot of lentil soup yesterday, so I thought the wings would be useful for stock. I roasted them off, just sprayed with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, and I was expecting to treat the cats; and then I read that they shouldn’t have cooked chicken bones, because they could splinter (the bones, not the cats. I think). When they were cooked, I offered Bill one, while I watched carefully, but she was extremely prissy and I had to take the meat off the bones for her.
Three more have gone into the fridge for Pete to eat for lunch, and the rest are now in the slow cooker, being turned into chicken stock. I shall chop up swede, leek and carrots later, and those and some barley will make another soup. I might give the Tribe some of the slow-cooked chicken, but only if they’re nice to me. Fat chance.
Honestly, I used to think I couldn’t make soup, and bought books on how to do it, but it’s like most other cooking – just use what you have.
I’ve had my Magimix for years – I bought it, and a whole batch of blades, many years ago, when I was much better off than I am now 🙂 It’s always sat there on the worktop, but I don’t actually use it all that much – veg for soup, whipping up the odd cake when I can’t be bothered to get the mixer out, etc.
I was having a “cook a nice dinner” day yesterday, something I love doing on an autumn/winter Sunday afternoon. I nipped (or popped) up to Iceland for one of their chateaubriands, but horror – they’d run out! So I bought a couple of duck breasts, a bag of spuds, and two cartons of cream. Pete had picked up a punnet of red plums for £0.45 in Aldi earlier in the week, so that needed factoring in too.
I started with grating the last of the Gruyére. Readers, I hate grating cheese – I usually get nail, or finger, or both in the grated stuff, so Pete always does it, but he was out. So I put the small bowl on the Magimix, and the grating blade, and it worked a treat!
Then came red cabbage (already in the fridge) – chopped it in plunger-size wedges and sliced it with a slicing blade. Then, I chopped an apple. And then a red onion. And then some garlic. I was on a roll by this point, as you might be able to tell. This all went in my ancient and venerable oval black Le Creuset casserole, with salt, pepper, a knob of butter, a good dollop of red wine vinegar, plus nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.
I washed up the bowls, then put the thin slicing blade on, and sliced up a load of spuds very thinly for what might be pommes dauphinoise (it’s what we call them, anyway); again, Pete would normally do this on our mandolin, which absolutely terrifies me, so I thought I’d try the Magimix. It was great, sliced them up very thinly. I layered half in a heatproof dish, sprinkled half the gruyere, salt, pepper and garlic power, and quite a lot of cream, then repeated the two laters. Stuck it in the oven for about 1hr 20m, with a foil hat for the first 40 minutes. Gorgeous.
Next up: plums. We decided on a plum upsidedown cake. Despite being cheap, the 45p plums were still quite hard, so I cut them in half, and cooked them off for ten minutes, cut side down, in a little water with five spice powder. I always do an upsidedown cake in my tarte tatin dish, which is like this:
I think I bought it from Lakeland, but they don’t seem to do it any more – Amazon do, though. I put some butter and some brown sugar in it, and melted it on the hob (sorry, not very good at measuring things like that), then arranged the plums, cut side down again, on top of the melted mix.
I made my standard cake mix with three eggs:
Weigh the eggs in their shell, then take the same weight of self-raising flour, butter and caster sugar. Beat the lot together. You can add gin to this, vanilla essence, chocolate drops, sultanas, pretty much anything. Bake for about 45 minutes at 180C.
Pour the cake mix onto the plums, smooth off, bake as above. Delicious. Oh, and of course, I mixed the batter in the Magimix!
It had a hard day, but it saved me hours, and that’s well worth it when you have arthritic paws like me.
We’re not huge fans of salad, or at least of the lettuce-ish variety; however, recently I’ve been making us a raw vegetable based luncheon a few days a week, on the basis that I eat too many carbs, and we could both do with more fresh veg.
Mostly, it is some combination of cucumber, spring onions, celery, radishes, with the addition of some beans, or tuna, or whatever, and a dollop of one of Aldi’s excellent bottled salad dressings (£0.99 a bottle, from memory), I generally keep a few of them in the fridge.
Autumn is coming, however. And the only salady veg in the fridge today were spronions, cucumber and celery. I chopped some up, but the bowl looked a bit … meagre. I grabbed a Very Large Carrot from the veg drawer, fitted the appropriate blade to the Magimix (I find grating by hand very difficult because of my paws), and grated it up, then added it to the bowl.
It still looked a bit dull, so in went about half a can of white beans, and then I wondered if there was any feta. There wasn’t, but there was half a pack of halloumi! I diced it up, and fried it up quickly until it was crispy, then in it went, with some honey and mustard dressing.
It was all absolutely delicious, and really healthy. We’ll be doing that again. And of course, there will be coleslaws in our near future too.
Please note that the above image of grated carrots comes from http://ftnondofra.com/en/carrot-cutting-machine
We had planned a day out on Sunday, to do some City of Culture stuff, watch them take Blade out of Queen Victoria Square, have lunch. But it was raining, and we had work to do, so we didn’t. That’s the joy of self-employment, it’s either famine or feast.
We have an Iceland pretty much at the top of our street, and I use it a lot; I find the quality very good. Curiously, on Saturday, a Facebook friend sang the praises of their Chateaubriand with Red Wine Sauce. For a tenner, if you please. So I trudged through the rain to buy one (and a teeny tiny fillet steak that will make a Stroganoff later), really to make up for not having lunch out, and also because I really, really, fancied red meat (we don’t eat it very often).
After I’d thawed the meat (in several changes of water), I dried it off, then coated it in garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper. Have I told you about garlic powder? – such a useful thing to keep in! Then I seared it in hot oil, and popped it into a pre-heated cast iron dish for about thirteen minutes. Then it had a rest for five minutes or so, wearing a tin foil hat (the beef, not me).
My friend had said the red wine sauce wasn’t great, so I jazzed it up with more wine, some gravy granules, some thyme, and a good dollop of dijon mustard.
We ate it with braised red cabbage from the freezer, a head of broccoli, and potatoes roasted in olive oil. To be honest, we weren’t expecting it to be spectacular because, you know, a tenner.
Readers – it was gorgeous.
Beautifully tender meat, and really flavoursome. We’ll be having it again (and again, I should think).
I bought a gammon from Iceland for the Christmas festivities – it was … OK, but not great, and very salty, so it languished in the fridge. There was also half a chunk of Gruyere, as I had done dauphinoise potatoes with the Christmas lunch, and some cream.
So last night, Pete sliced potatoes very thinly on the mandolin (which terrifies me, so I make him do it), while I chopped red onion, tackled the Gruyere with a potato peeler (easier than grating for this sort of thing), and diced up leftover gammon.
Into a nice cast iron dish went a layer of spud, then onion, gammon, garlic powder, black pepper, Gruyere and some cream. We added another layer of spud, more cheese (always moar! cheese!), more cream, and a sprinkling of rosemary. Bunged in the oven for an hour, and readers – it was gorgeous. And there was enough left for lunch today, accompanied by home made lentil/veg soup.
We had it with brussels sprouts (don’t care – we love ’em), mixed with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, and roasted in the oven. De-li-cious.
We had a slow cooked joint of beef for our Christmas lunch this year, and while it was very nice, we’d had a couple of cold meals from it, and were a bit bored with it. So we made A Pie.
I sautéd diced carrot, onion and courgette, and then added some mushrooms and cooked it all down. Then a splash of red wine, some garlic powder, some Bisto granules (or Aldi equivalent), and some mixed herbs. Diced up the beef, bunged it in the pan, and let it all simmer for about half an hour.
We used ready made puff pastry (I know, I know), which Pete rolled out because I’m useless at it, no idea why. It was very nice, and did us for a couple of days’ worth of meals. Never underestimate pie!
We were invited to Sunday lunch with some friends at the weekend, as Piers had a new toy to play with, and he wished to mandolin lots of potatoes to make a dauphinoise. It would have been churlish not to pop over and help them out with the consumption of same. So we did. As an aside, Piers is a damn good baker, and I hope his plans to start doing it commercially start to come together soon, once he can beat the beasts of bureaucracy into submission.
Anyway. I’m not great at puddings, and my repertoire is small (ooh er, missus), but I nipped or popped into the greengrocer on Friday to see if anything inspired. And there was Yorkshire rhubarb, so I bore it home. We almost always make a crumble with rhubarb, but I wanted to do something different, so here’s what I did.
450g forced rhubarb, cut into 1in/2.5cm lengths
110g soft brown sugar
2 tsp freshly grated ginger (or more, if you like things gingery)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
70g ground almonds
50g self-raising flour (or plain, and ½ teaspoon of baking powder)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
Spread the rhubarb out in an ovenproof dish (one about 6x8in/15x20cm). Now, I never add sugar to rhubarb, but if your tooth is sweeter than mine, scatter some brown sugar over the fruit.
Cream the butter and the rest of the sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the spices, almonds and then eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour (if you are making this in a food processor then just pulse in the flour, stopping as soon as it is amalgamated).
Spoon the mixture on top of the rhubarb, spreading it out lightly. I scattered some flaked almonds over the top too, as an afterthought.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown and more or less cooked through. It will still be a bit gooey in the middle, which just makes it better. If you let it sit for an hour (just about the time to drive from Hull to Doncaster, as it happens), it’ll firm up a bit more.
We warmed it through again when we got there, and ate it – all of it, I’m ashamed to say – with double cream.
Which after roast beef, pommes dauphinoise, cabbage and peas and beans was quite piggish. Particularly as we followed it with two sorts of cheese, two sorts of crackers, and some grapes. But, in our defence, Pete and I didn’t eat again until Monday lunchtime …