Month: December 2009

Christmas Eve …

I have walnut and raisin bread rising.  I have stuffed the goose with a mix of sausagemeat, cranberries, apricots soaked in Cointreau, crumbled black pudding, a mixture of white and soda bread crumbs.  I have made stuffing balls with herbs from the garden, and more breadcrumbs.

I have rubbed fivespice powder into the goose’s skin, and Pete is currently trimming his legs (the goose’s, that is!) with a hacksaw so that I can fit it in the oven.  Mr Goose will be basted with the aforementioned Cointreau, and some honey.

I have cooked a gammon in ginger beer, cloves, cinnamon and satsumas.  I have made a huge fruit cake laced with bourbon.  I have pigs in blankets, and red cabbage in the freezer. I still have to do do the potatoes, sprouts and parsnips, and make brandy butter, but we’re on target.  Tomorrow’s plan is to go for a walk on the North Sea coast once Johnny Goose is en-ovened, to work up an appetite.  And there will be smoked salmon and blinis for Xmas Day high tea.

*And* I have industrial quantities of Maltesers.  Well, it is Christmas.

I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!

chicken (and duck) soup

I stuck the chicken carcass in the slow cooker (how I love that thing!) with just some water, and cooked it overnight to make stock. And then I cooked it again the next night, as I hadn’t got round to removing the chicken from it and stripping the last of the meat from the bones (Pete did it for me in the end).

I had quite a lot of elderly veg languishing in the fridge, so I peeled (where necessary) and diced one sweet potato, one huge carrot, one courgette, and a big leek.  Cooked them down in some olive oil to start them off.  There was so much veg that one tubful went into the freezer, which will be nice the next time I’m making soup.

Then in went the chicken stock, some cracked wheat (which I bought by mistake instead of barley), seasoning, and as a final flourish the last of the gravy from Monday’s roast duck, nicely flavoured with cider, and thickened with arrowroot.

Topped up with water, and cooked it slowly the next morning for 3 hours, before devouring some for lunch.  There’s enough there to do at least four days, if not more.  A chicken is a wondrous thing 🙂

chicken pie

(Or, at least, the filling thereof).  We had a roast chicken last week, a 5lb one.  It fed four for one meal, we had a stir fry the next night, then Pete stripped the carcass and I made stock, and then soup from the bones.

But the remaining meat languished in the fridge – somehow we just didn’t get to it.  So last night, I made it into a filling for a brace of chicken pies.

I took two leeks, chopped them down the middle, and then into fine slices, and sautéd them off in some olive oil.  Chopped a pack of back bacon that really did need eating, but was not particularly good bacon, and added that to the pan. When the bacon was cooked, I tipped in the chopped chicken and stirred until it was hot.

Then added some flour to coat it all, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, and then milk until it was the sort of consistency I wanted.  All of this went on to a chorus of anguish from five cats, who felt that inside them was a much more suitable resting place for any chicken remains.  So they got the duck giblets from the night before – spoilt, you say? 🙂

It made two tubs’ worth of pie fillings, which will make eight portions of pie – so the chicken did 14 portions, plus soup, for a fiver.

did you get the things we needed (an occasional series)

We set off bright and early (for us, anyway – about 9.45) for the South Cave farmer’s market. It wasn’t a patch on the Humber Bridge one, so we won’t bother again, but we will visit the Humber Xmas Special market – they had some beautiful venison loins last week, and I fancy one for New Year’s Eve.

We did buy a pork pie, about 5″ across, with black pudding in (£3.50) which has gone in the freezer for Christmas, and two steak pasties at £1.10 apiece, and a red cyclamen for £1.60, a jar of marmalade for £1.50, and four fish cakes at £1 each.  All the stallholders were happy to stop and chat, and the quality of the local food is terrific, as are the prices.

Next off we went to the nursery nearby, and picked up sage, rosemary and thyme plants – I miss my herb garden.  I have planted oregano, basil and coriander seeds in pots on the kitchen window sill, and I’ll pot these new herbs up tomorrow.  We had a cracking breakfast there – local sausage and bacon, gorgeous black pudding (which came from Makro!), mushrooms, egg, potatoes, tea and toast for a fiver each.  We picked up a pack of bacon and some sausages from their shop.

Then off to Makro for a couple of bits.  Um.  £258 …

  • 48 tins of cat fud, 2 bags of cat bikkit, a duck for tomorrow’s dinner, a big gammon to cook up for the holiday.
  • A bottle of Bushmills single malt for medicinal purposes.
  • onions (red and white), satsumas, apples, cashews with chili
  • 2 big boxes of Maltesers,  Elizabeth Shaw mint chocs, a big Toblerone, a christmas pud (didn’t get time to make them this year).  And Twiglets, of course
  • cheese – camembert, smoked Austrian, Port Salut, Philadelphia, mozzarella, and milk and double cream, 5 packs of unsalted butter, and a huge tub of Stork marge for baking. And some good vanilla ice cream
  • pate, a pack of Italian antipasto meats, a big pack of kabanos (which Pete loves, and Costco stopped doing some time back), and a huge hunk of the black pudding we had for breakfast – I love black pud
  • 4 pairs of fluffy socks for me – my feet get so cold in this house
  • 3 kgs of plain flour, and some Yorkshire Tea for hard water – it’s like iron here
  • a 3kg tin of rhubarb, which I am going to turn into wine
  • oh – and a colour printer/scanner.  As you do.  Actually, we did need one, as our scanner was hateful and horrible and we binned it before we moved.

Broke now.

christmas cake

wreathRather belatedly, I made our christmas cake last night; I’d normally have done it in November, but what with the move and all …

I use a variation on a tried and tested Nigel Slater recipe, and here it is:

Prepare a 20cm deep cake pan – grease well, line with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, with the sides lined to above the top by a couple of inches.

Amass 1kg of dried fruit – I used figs, prunes, apricots, dates, raisins and sultanas, as that was what was in the baking box, and cut it into small pieces.  This is tedious, but I didn’t bother so much last year, and it wasn’t as nice.

Cream 250g butter and 250g brown sugar together – I used about half and half dark muscovado and demerara.  Beat until it’s light and fluffy, or as light and fluffy as it can be with muscovado in it ..

Add three eggs one by one – don’t worry, it will curdle, probably.

Add 65g of ground almonds, and 100g of shelled hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons of alcohol (recipe says brandy, but I generally use whiskey, and this year I used good bourbon!), zest and juice of an orange, half a teaspoon of baking powder, and 250g of plain flour.  And the fruit.

My mixer always gives up at this point and I have to fold it all together by hand.

Put it in the tin, cook for one hour at gas mark 3, then 1.5 hours at gas 2 – don’t open the oven to prod it until the end.  Leave to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in foil, and feed it with more alcohol every few days.

We eat as is, as we don’t much like icing.  Merry Christmas!

"bland food"

We have some friends coming over for supper tonight – we only met them quite recently, and we’ve never eaten together before.  I asked Linda if there was anything she didn’t like, and she said “I don’t like spicy food – I just like things plain and bland”.

Aargh – I don’t do plain and bland, as a rule.  I tend to tip the contents of the spice shelves and other larder ingredients into whatever I’m cooking, and absolutely none of my stock supper dishes could count as plain and bland.

I asked my friend Moyra, and she suggested a roast chickie! – perfect.  So there’s a 5lb free range chicken in the oven, with half a lemon inside it, the other half squeezed over it, liberally sprinkled with sea salt, ground black pepper and good olive oil.  I put three bay leaves in the roasting dish from my beloved bay tree, which accompanied me from Somerset, and now lives outside the back door.

And [whispers] just a bit of garlic into the tray.  Not much, honest.  And there are mince pies and cream for pudding; shop bought, but at least from the local bakery, not a supermarket.

Food price note: free range chicken from the butcher at the top of the road is £1 per lb – amazing.

all quiet on the Eastern front

Apologies for the lack of posts – we moved from North Somerset to Kingston-upon-Hull on 21st November, and life has been chaotic ever since!  I’ve had time to cook, but not time to write it up.

We brought some stuff with us from the freezer, and our coolbag was so effective I could actually put the huge lumps of beef back in.  I was left with:

  • a piece of belly pork and eight chorizo sausages – I bought some chicken thighs from the local butcher, and made what we call, inaccurately, a gumbo – the pork, chicken and half the chorizo, with some cider (as that was all I could lay my hands on) – three tubs for the freezer
  • to make a point, I bought a bunch of coriander from the Indian grocer 5 minutes up the road the day we moved in (he said that if you could buy coriander on a weekend without getting the car out, you were in a civilised area – we are).  So then I had to go out and get more chicken thighs, and made a batch of coriander chicken
  • we brought four faggots with us – they were cooked with carrots, courgettes, mustard, onions,mushrooms and cider (again!) and put in the freezer.  We ate two of them for supper on Friday and very nice they were too
  • I took a hunk of silverside out of the freezer yesterday, and it’s now in the slow cooker, in a stock made of a rogue bottle of ginger beer, teriyaki, grain mustard, crushed allspice and peppercorns and a splash of red wine vinegar.

Hopefully a more regular service will be restored soon – I’ll be writing a post shortly about food shopping here in East Yorkshire; excellent quality and prices at least 20% less than Bristol.