For some reason, we hardly ever have pizza, and I’m not sure we’ve ever made it. So we decided to remedy that on Saturday.
There was a small tub of tomato purée in the freezer, and some pork and duck stuffing balls (from Waitrose, no less!), and it seemed a good way to deal with them. There was also a couple of packets of pizza mix in the pantry; I think I bought them to do something from the Hairy Bikers’ book, and never got round to it.
So, I roasted off the stuffing balls in the Remoska, and then Pete did the rest. He cooked down the tomato with some garlic and onion, then spread it on the pizza dough, added salami, the meatballs, and some mozzarella. It wasn’t bad at all, but next time I’ll make my own dough, thank you.
We make this recipe (or a variation on it) fairly often, and it involves far too long standing over the cooker in a cold kitchen (the hole in the wall is being mended tomorrow – hurrah!). So in the interests of experimentation, I thought I’d have a bash at doing the sauce in the little slow cooker.
I diced onion, crushed garlic and chopped courgettes, and put them in the slow cooker with a glug of olive oil, and another of red wine. Left them on low for a couple of hours, then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes, then left it for another couple of hours And it was really nice, but I should have turned it up to high for the last hour, I think, just to get the last of the slightly raw tomato taste to it (I cannot abide raw tomatoes).
Did the pasta on the hob as usual, then dumped the lot in the small Remoska, and dotted it with mozzarella and basil leaves.
Worth mentioning that courgettes are lovely veg – dice them up small and include in soup or casseroles, cut them into strips for a nice stir fry, bung them in roast veg …
I love butternut squash. It has a lovely texture, and works in so many things: risotto, roast veg, Thai currys, soup, etc. But there’s no denying that it’s a faff to deal with due to the peel. So I did a little experiment.
I wanted some soup to come home to on Saturday, and astonishingly, there was no mongrel soup on the go (which I must address). And there was a squash in the fridge. I cut the top off the squash, and then chopped the rest in half, scooped out the seeds, and put it in the medium slow cooker with about ½” of wine (all there was left in that bottle, although obviously in this house, other bottles were available). I then added about 1″ further of water. Switched it on, went away. Returned after a couple of hours and added a diced and peeled Bramley, because it struck me that it would work rather well.
In the small slow cooker, I put a big onion, chopped, three cloves of garlic, and some chopped sage leaves from the garden. Half of this mixture went to make sage and onion tear and share bread (which I baked in the Remoska when we got home),
After four, or maybe five, hours, the squash seemed well cooked, so I scooped a bit out, and lo – even the skin was really soft. So I put it, the apple, the onion and sage mix, into the food processor and blitzed it all. Returned it to the pot with a bit more water, tasted it, and decided it needed some toasted cumin, which Pete obligingly provided. Switched the slow cooker onto medium, and it was all done and dusted when we got home, just half an hour to bake the bread. Splendid.
And then …
I had planned to make Anjum Anand’s Gujarati lamb on Sunday, and had removed half a shoulder of the relevant beast from the freezer. I usually add a squash to this, because the texture is so nice, but there was a bowlful of soup left and it seemed rude not to use that instead. So instead we had a kind of use it up Gujarati lamb, which went like this.
one shoulder of lamb, browned on all sides.
one onion, finely diced
some garlic (I used about six cloves) and a big piece of ginger, made into a paste with some water
a couple of handfuls of dessicated coconut
ground cumin, coriander, turmeric
some chilli flakes
leftover butternut squash soup (I accept that most of you won’t have this to hand)
some chickpeas (I always used dried, so had them cooking in the small slow cooker while this was going on)
lemon juice – about a tablespoon’s worth
salt and black pepper
Soften the onion in some vegetable oil, then add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for about three minutes. Tip in the spices (quantities here are very individual – we like our foot spicy). Fry a bit longer. Put the lamb in the slow cooker, tip the onion mix in, add the soup, and a little water if required – I wanted it to come about half way up the meat. I normally add sweet potatoes, but mine had gone mouldy (oh the shame).
Cooked it for about six hours (adding the previously cooked chickpeas about two hours from the end) and it was just beautiful. We gorged on it, and there was plenty left for today’s lunch. And indeed there’s still a fair bit of the sauce left, so I shall be adding red lentils and veg to that, and making it into this week’s mongrel soup.
So there you go – slow cook your squash, and no need to peel. Win win.
Fuel prices here, both gas and electricity, are larcenous. We already try not to use the central heating; we are lucky enough to have a woodburner, and that heats downstairs, and our bedroom above, and we put up with a cold bathroom. Having the fuel paid for in advance is nice, and I get a warm glow (pun intended) when I look at the mountains of wood in the yard; I think we have two years’ worth out there, with luck.
I recently bought a stovetop kettle, which we keep on the fire for hot drinks in the evening, and I now have three slow cookers (bit like Goldilocks – small, medium and huge), and my trusty Remoska. I already try to fill the oven when it on, but I’m now thinking ahead for other types of cooking too.
So, tonight we are having sausages. There are some cooked spuds in the fridge, so sausages and potatoes will go in the Remoska to cook (and will probably add a quartered onion too), and we shall accompany it with homemade baked beans (I made a batch a few weeks ago, and froze them in portion sized boxes). I’m going to try the baked beans on the stove in a cast iron casserole.
This one is a real blast from the past. I used to make it quite often back in the 70s and 80s, but I’m not sure when I last made it. Years and years, for sure. I had a bowl of cooked potatoes in the fridge, and thought “why not?”.
So: cut an onion in half, and slice it thinly. Set it to soften in some olive oil, and when it has, add the contents of a tin of corned beef, cubed. The corned beef will make a sort of mush with the onion, and you could add some frozen mixed veg or something if you liked.
Make some cheese sauce – a packet would do, I guess. Put the corned beef in the bottom of an ovenproof dish*, pour the sauce over. Mash the potatoes with a little milk and butter, and put them on the top. Serve with frozen peas.
It’s surprisingly nice. Trust me.
*I used my little Remoska, but hardly anyone has one of those, as Lakeland stopped selling that size.
Diced two rashers of back bacon, a few mushrooms, half a green pepper* and half a red onion, and put them in the shallow pan of the Remoska with a little olive oil for 15 minutes (switched it on, obviously!).
Beat four eggs with some seasoning and a splash of water, stirred in about 30g of Gruyere and poured that in. Added the spinach leaves and stirred it about a bit, and cooked for another 20 minutes. It made a very fine breakfast.
*I’m not especially fond of green peppers, but They always put one in a mixed bag. The other half has been diced up and put in This Week’s Soup.
A frittata is a great way to use up bits and pieces. As I had quite a few bits and pieces to use up, that’s what I made 🙂
There were some leftover cooked veg – cauli and broccoli, and some new potatoes – left over from when we served the chickie! pie. Some tired mushrooms and peppers in the fridge. All cut up, and put in the Remoska with a little olive oil and some garden herbs. I left them to cook for about 15 minutes, while I beat up four eggs with seasoning.
Added the egg mix to the Remoska, left it for another 15 minutes. Supper!
If you don’t have a Remoska, and I don’t expect you will, just cook it in a frying pan on the hob, very slowly.
We held a small gathering here the other night, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We cooked up a slow cooker’s worth of lemony chicken and coriander, and a big pot of dhal to accompany it, and also for the vegans/veggies in the throng. We also served (bought) chapatis.
That recipe, incidentally, is a base – we use a lot more garlic, chillis and spices than that, and I’ve discovered that if you just sling the chicken in the slow cooker without browning it, it still works beautifully, and you save a lot of time and effort, and a lot of oil too! Makes it a very low calorie dish. Anyway, I digress.
So this morning, I tipped the remainder of the coriander chicken sauce into the stock pot, added a few carrots, a courgette and an onion which had been minced in the Magimix, and two mugfuls of red lentils, and a nice pot of spicy soup is now bubbling away for lunch. To go with it, I used (most of) the rest of the stout to make a Guinness soda bread loaf, which is now baking in the Remoska.
Sadly, Pete declined to drink the rest of the stout – it was two days old, I know, but still. I poured it down the sink.
This is yet another Irish soda bread recipe, and the one I make most often. It’s very forgiving of ingredients and mix, but here’s how I did it today. If you have milk or cream that’s gone over, use that. Or yoghurt is fine too (plain, not fruit, obviously, unless you like weird flavoured bread!).
The flour mix is up to you, but more brown than white works best, and sometimes I add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
350g wholemeal flour (I accidentally used brown today, but it’ll b e fine)
125g strong white flour
100g porage oats
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder.
Mix the above ingredients together. I use a food mixer, sometimes with the dough hook, sometimes with the beater. Either is fine. Then add:
1 large egg
1 tbsp olive oil
280ml of buttermilk or equivalent (see above)
I don’t bother mixing these together, I just bung them all into the dry ingredients. And I couldn’t really tell you if 280ml is the right amount, because I’ve been making soda bread since I was a girl, and I don’t measure the liquid. You want a mix that is stiff, and add the liquid *slowly*, because it can turn all of a sudden into a gloopy mess that sticks to everything.
On a floured surface, shape it into a ball, and cut a cross into the top. My Irish grandma always said it was to keep the devil out, but she was a devout Roman Catholic, so who know …
Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, then 190C for 30 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. I do mine in the Remoska for about 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. I can tell you that this bread makes gorgeous toast.
I don’t normally bother with recipes for soup – they’re a bit mongrel here. But I’ve started tracking what I eat on MyFitnessPal, so it’s worth writing stuff up, just for that. So hopefully there’ll be a lot more appearing here now.
We make this quite often, as Morrisons do three lamb bones for about £0.85, which make a fine soup. I roast them off in the Remoska for half an hour, then boil them up in some water. Let them cool, fish them out, and strip the surprising amount of meat off them and shred it. And there’s the basis for the soup.
In the slow cooker (or a big pot), put the stock and meat, two leeks and some carrots (couple of big ones, or five smallish assorted, as I did this morning), which have been chopped finely. I use the Magimix for this as a rule, but sometimes I will stand and chop; it can be quite therapeutic, particularly if you imbue the veg with human personalities 🙂 Add 200g ish of barley, a couple of teaspoons of salt, and a good sprinkling of black pepper. Top up with boiling water if there is insufficient liquid.
About four hours in the slow cooker will do it, less if you’re in a pot on the hob. It’s very nice, and exceeding warming, which given the thermometer says -1C here today, is just what’s wanted.