Month: March 2010

chicken and fennel with pasta

Our local Co-Op had special offers on chicken last week – two packs of diced breast for a fiver, and the same for whole breast.  I picked up two packs of each and stowed them in the freezer, not least because I’m trying to cut down my red meat consumption.

There was also a head of fennel in the fridge; I love fennel, but tend to forget about it and just lob it in the soup, so I wanted to actually, you know, make something with it deliberately.

In the morning, I took half of one pack of diced chicken – it was in a plastic tray divided into two, so that was simple, and I stuck the other half into a poly bag and replaced it in the freezer.

This evening, I cut the chicken into slightly smaller chunks, and browned it in some olive oil.  Put it in a brown bowl, then added sliced fennel and a chopped red onion to tha pan.  Sauted the veg until soft, then added a spoonful of Dijon mustard and stirred it round.  Added a knob of butter to the pan, and when melted, returned the chicken, and added about a wineglass full of cider, and some seasoning.

Stuck a lid on the pan, and left it for about 12 minutes, then took the lid off and reduced the liquor down, finally adding a little double cream.  We ate this with pasta – my share of that was about 35g, which ain’t too bad.

No idea of the calorific value of the rest of the meal, but as Pete and I went for a 6 mile walk this morning, I reckon I’ve earned it 🙂

watching my diet

lunch, originally uploaded by ramtops.

I need to be doing this now, so I’m trying to eat less carbs and fats.  Cut into small pieces: 1 wholewheat multigrain bagel with a little Phildelphia cheese, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 slice home baked gammon, 3 radishes, 2 gherkins.

I find if I cut things small, I eat them much more slowly, and I feel more satisfied. In the mug is some home made soup – vegetables, passata and lentils.

roasted veg

butternut squash and aubergines

This is a photograph from another roast veg, but all text makes a dull post 🙂

We used to have this a lot, but somehow got out of the habit.  But it’s a nice healthy meal while I’m battling with health issues, so off we went.

Chopped an aubergine, a yellow pepper, half a butternut squash, half a sweet potato and a red onion, and put in a bowl with about five cloves of chopped garlic.  Added olive oil and sesame seeds, mixed it together (I always use my paws), then put some clingfilm on it, and zapped for 8 minutes in the microwave, which knocks about 20 minutes or so off the cooking time.

Turned into an ovenproof dish, and baked for about 45 minutes at gas 6.

To accompany it, I did some chickpeas (as I’d boiled up a load the day before) – browned a chopped shallot in some olive oil, add the chickpeas and a good dollop of lemon juice, and warmed through.  Added chopped fresh coriander at the end.We had the remainder of the veg on a small ciabatta each for lunch, topped with a little feta and grilled for a couple of minutes.  Fab.

a tail of monkfish

They had monkfish on the fish counter in Makro on Saturday, so we treated ourselves to a tenner’s worth. But what to do with it? I’m currently trying to do a low fat diet, having just been given a preliminary diet of diabetes [scream], so wanted to be careful.

So: finely sliced 1.5 onions (as we had .5 left from lunch), and a red pepper, and chopped some garlic, and fried them off in much less olive oil than I usually would, adding four small Unearthed chorizo to the mix. When they were cooked, we stirred in a couple of teaspoons of our home made Ras el Hanout, stirred it about a bit, then hurled in a big can of chickpeas (probably twice the size of the normal ones) and a carton of passata, then about half a carton of water. Little bit of salt and some fresh rosemary went in next.

Cooked that for about half an hour, then added the chunked monkfish. The flesh didn’t really want to come off the end of the tailbone, so we hurled that in whole. Cooked the lot for another ten minutes or so, and consumed with couscous.

It made three meals worth (so six servings), and Pete manfully parted the bone from the fish when it was cold.

weekend shopping

One of the really nice things about living here is the wealth of independent shops within walking distance. We usually shop in Chanterlands (Chants) Avenue, which has two butchers, two greengrocers, small Co-Op and Sainsburys, and so forth.

Today, we went over to Newland Ave for a change – it’s a bit further, but it was a lovely morning, and we broke out the shiny red shopping trolley.

£17.58 in the greengrocers bought:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • pak choi
  • 8 Braeburn apples
  • 4 Navel oranges
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • a lump of fresh ginger
  • 1 leek
  • 5 big onions
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • about a dozen shallots
  • 4 courgettes
  • a pack of part baked ciabbata

£9.50 in the butcher bought 2lbs of diced chicken, 4 pork and leek sausages, and 4 Lincolnshire sausages. Two flaky pasties from the baker for 80p each (nice lunch!).

Also picked up 4 cartons of chopped tomatoes and a pack of wheat wraps in Sainsburys, and that’s us sorted for the week, at least!

weekend cooking


We were due at a Transition Town film meeting on Saturday afternoon, with tea and cake afterwards, so I baked muffins in the morning: I had some brown bananas, and a couple of rather tired clementines, so did a dozen each of clementine and poppyseed, and banana and bran flake. We were greedy, and kept 4 of each back for ourselves, and in the end, not many people turned up for the film, so I brought several muffins back home with me, which are safely stowed in the freezer for when I have a “must have CAKE!” moment.

It’s worth mentioning that the banana muffin mix freezes really well, and I’ve no reason to suppose that the clementine won’t do the same; certainly takes a lot less space than baked muffins, and they’re so much nicer freshly made.

Vegetable Tagine
Sunday, I took an aubergine, a courgette, a red and a yellow pepper, chopped them up and put them in the slow cooker. Chopped up a sweet potato, a butternut squash and a huge carrot, and parboiled them for about 7 minutes. Drained them, added to slow cooker. Chopped an onion and some garlic, fried them off in some olive oil, then added some home made Ras El Hanout and stirred it round for a couple of moments, then added a tin of tomatoes and some water, brought to the boil, added to slow cooker with some salt and pepper. Stirred, regarded, added a tin of chick peas (should have been organised to soak some overnight, but ho hum). Voila, vegetable tagine – after about 6 hours in the cooker. Made 8 portions.

Also knocked out a couple of gallons of fruit juice wine – one prune, one red grape. I’ve not tried this before, but Tesco were doing 3 for 2 on fruit juice last week, and so for about a fiver including sugar it had to be tried. That makes [counts] ten gallons on the go, and about 20 bottles in the rack, so we should be able to continue our alcoholic lifestyle for a while yet.

chicken and red pepper risotto

We haven’t had a risotto for ages, for some reason.  The carcass of the last chicken we had, about three weeks ago, was stuffed in the freezer; I pulled it out and stuck it in the slow cooker to make stock, and there was a surprising amount of meat on it, which we put in a little brown bowl in the fridge, and Pete declared it suitable for a risotto.

Cardinal rule of risotto for two: 5oz risotto rice, 1 pint liquid.  As I had the chicken stock, I used half a pint of that, and topped it up with cider.  Chopped one red onion and one red pepper, sautéd them with some olive oil, added rice, then stock bit by bit, and some seasoning.  Chicken went in about 5 minutes before the end. Delicious!

[makes note to self that we need more risotto rice]

a sossidge baguette

For some reason, I’ve hardly used the Remoska since we’ve been here.  This kitchen has less countertop, and less cupboard space than my old one, and the little chap has been pushed into a cupboard, but even so …

We had two fat venison sausages left from the weekend, and thought they’d be nice in a fresh baked baguette (I like to keep those part-baked ones in for a change).  Inspiration struck!

I peeled a big onion, cut it in half, then sliced it thinly, and put it in the bottom of the Remoska, drizzled with olive oil, added the sossidges and switched it on.  After 20 minutes, I went back downstairs and turned the sausages.

Fifteen minutes later, I removed them, sliced them into four lengthways, we scooped out the onion and piled it into buttered baguettes and added the sausages.  I slathered mine with French’s deli mustard too, but that’s because I is a gourmet.

Fab, and hardly any washing up!