Monday, 28 November 2011

Herb crusted lamb. Vegetarians look away....

This photograph may look quite scary to some people but to me this is heaven on a plate. Ok maybe slightly underdone but it was delicious!. To make the herb crust you whizz up loads of herbs with some bread crumbs and once you've browned off the meat you smear it with english mustard and spread on the crust. I have never cooked lamb like this before and I will make it again. I didn't even bother offering this to the children for their dinner, why waste decent lamb. There is something really special about lamb. If you're going to be paying the extra cost of lamb then it's so much better from the butcher and in Wales why get lamb from the supermarket that's been sent half way round the world. This lamb was really good, so the sides were simple mash potato and peas, can't be beaten.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Spicy Satay Chicken with Vegetable Rosti

This is another one of those combinations where we have the stuff in the house lets make both. It also happened to be a sunday lunchtime despite the fact that we'd been shopping and spent loads of money on food there is never anything for lunch. So in a ridiculously short amount of time before we had to get the children out for their swimming lessons I had to make lunch and this is the result. I'll start with the rosti, quite easy really grate vegetables, in this case carrot and sweet potato, mix with spices and an egg, mould and fry and lastly bake in the oven. Tasty.

Now I'll move onto the good part, the satay chicken. My first experience of satay chicken was probably the same as most people. The funny nobbly looking bits of chicken on a small stick from the supermarket party food aisle. Now if that's all you've ever had you'd probably carry on uite happily eating it. But I'm sorry I'm now officially a satay chicken snob. Proper chicken that looks like chicken, fried and finished with a touch of honey. But the best bit is the satay, peanut butter (given), chilli, soy sauce, mirin and garlic all whizzed up together. Very addictive and we did wish we'd had more chicken to finish it off. But not to worry I had a very nice simple tea of chicken and carrot sticks a few night later. Well we can't let satay sauce go to waste!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pan-fried balsamic pear salad with pancetta, Gorgonzola and a warm honey dressing.

Anyone who has read my previous posts will know that I don't do fruit in savoury. So this was quite a stretch for me. I have to be honest I saved it for a night when Mark was out, he would not have been impressed with a salad for dinner and I absolutely loved it. In fact I'm really looking forward to having it again. I think it was the cheese and pancetta that saved the pears. I couldn't have a mouthful of just pear but with a bit of cheese or pancetta it was delish, probably from all the salt! I've never had fried pancetta before and I made sure it was really crispy, my word if you could afford it you would never eat normal bacon again, especially if you get it nice and crispy. I'm quite new to blue cheeses too, before I went through the first book I don't think I'd ever tasty any despite my parents best efforts. So this dish will definitely be added to my single nights in, yum.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Spicy Tomato soup with Dinner Rolls

You say tomato soup and you think of Heinz. I wasn't sure if this would work out but it was really delicious with a hint of spice from the Worstershire sauce. Basically you boil tomatoes, add spice and whizz up. The bread rolls are a basic white bread recipe. Since watching Paul Hollywood on the Great British bake off I've discovered that I used to kill the yeast when I added everything to the bowl by putting salt on top of the yeast. Well I was really careful with this mixture and made sure I kneaded it a bit longer. I did however make the mistake of only making up half the recipe. Whenever I make rolls we always end up with a couple uneaten and they go to waste so I halved all the quantities. The problem is, these are quite small rolls so we had to ration them out to make sure we all had enough to eat. Plenty of snack were eaten that afternoon!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lamb Tagine

I'm not very familiar with the food of northern Africa. When I went through the first book there was a filo pie with a savoury filling but used essence of sweet flavours such as cinnamon. I love cinnamon and this dish does use some. Now I have to admit now that I did miss out a major ingredient from this tagine. It is meant to have pear in it. I am still trying to train myself to put fruit into savoury dishes but I do find it really difficult, everything about fruit in savoury is wrong in my mind. So I wasn't too worried when I discovered that we had no pears in the house when I made this dish. But the missing pears didn't detract from the dish, it was really tasty with a hint of spice and the sweet flavours of cinnamon.

As usual I had some ingredients missing, apart from the pears. We used to eat a lot of cous cous and so assumed we had plenty, no we had a spoonful in the cupboard so I had to use bulgar wheat. It is still tasty but a bit rougher than cous cous. I liked the addition of pine nuts in the cous cous to add a bit of texture. So overall it was a really tasty dish, and maybe next time I'll be brave and add the pears!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Warm and cosy Coq au vin.

Well this is just the sort of dish you need on a day like this. Even writing this now my fingers are so cold I'm struggling to hit the right keys. I admit it isn't the prettiest or most appealing dishes to look at but it would definitely give you that nice warm cosy feeling. I have never cooked coq au vin before, I think growing up we had so many stews that I tend not to make or eat them as an adult. My Mum bless her would try and big them up by giving them a different name but would always be faced with the sulking teenager who would respond with, 'so it's beef stew then'. What an annoying brat I was! But maybe I could start to be drawn back to the nice big bowl of hot stew again. This was really tasty and because I didn't even bother offering it to our children we had massive portions. But I think the big rule to any stew is having the warm crusty bread to go with it. You need something crunchy just to give you a change of texture otherwise you might as well be eating  soup, which for dinner just isn't right.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Granola Bars

I am determined to catch up on my blogs, I am about ten dishes behind and beginning to forget how the cook went and tasted which is the whole point of this so there should be one every day for the next week. I think the problem is I prefer to write about the sweet things. So far I haven't made many of the puddings and sweets in the book so I've got to do something about that. Anyway, Granola bars.. to me these are flapjacks but with fruit and nuts in them, maybe that's the official line anyway, I'm not sure. Usually I avoid anything that contains currants, I'm sure I've told you before that they spoil decent food for me, why spoil a perfectly good flapjack by adding fruit. Well, maybe I'm beginning to be converted. I quite liked the little sweet pockets of the fruit and the odd bit of pecan added a little change of texture. The great thing about these is you can make them to your own preference, so add dried strawberries instead or pistachio nuts instead of pecans. This is a great base to make as you like. Both my children enjoyed these and I think Henry would have polished off the entire tin if he could have had the chance. A great little make without the huge feelings of sweet guilt that usually go along with a cake. Yum.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Chorizo baked fish with sweet potato wedges.

Now officially these two dishes should not have gone together. But we had sweet potatoes in the veg box, along with cherry tomatoes so hey ho. The fish is baked with tomatoes and chorizo and herbs. Anything with chorizo is yummy in our house so this was a winner straight away. The potatoes were a very pleasant surprise. They are cut into wedges and baked in the oven with paprika. Meanwhile you fry off some bacon until it's really crunchy and pour on some maple syrup. Then mix the two together. These potatoes are amazing and I loved them. So what if officially you shouldn't really put maple covered bacon with a chorizo dish, I don't care. I will definitely be making those potatoes again. Just writing this I wish I was having them for tea tonight, there's always tomorrow. x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sausage Rolls big night out

It shows how long ago I made these because I made them for a Halloween party! This was a childrens party but they went down better with the grown ups. It's basically puff pastry and pepperoni fingers. These are a real faff to make, and of course Lorraine made it look so simple on the television. You have to get the sausages just the right distance apart to be able to get your fingers in the gap to squash the pastry , too close and my pudgy fingers didn't fit and too far apart all you'd end up eating is pastry. As you can see from the picture they areb't exactly consistent! But saying that, it did make a really nice change from sausage rolls, a bit more grown up. With the pepperoni it did give it a little more of a kick. Very tasty.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Double chocolate cheesecake.

I love any excuse to make a pud and having tea at a friends is one of the best reasons. Ever since I saw this one of the television I've wanted to make it, I cannot justify making a whole pud just for us at home, although if pressed I will. Just to warn you, it goes a long way. It's meant to be made in a nine inch tin which is massive!! I cut the recipe down by a third and made it in an 8 inch tin. Mainly because I'd forgotten to buy enough cream cheese so I was limited.

The base is made of chocolate digestives, and this makes a real difference, although I did eat quite a lot of it before it made it into the tin. I don't like a deep base, so there was plenty left over to munch on. Then it's basically melted chocolate with cream cheese and a little icing sugar. But it's the topping that looks so nice, you mix a little oil with some melted chocolate and it means you can store the pud in the fridge and you can still cut it without splitting the whole thing all over the table. The recipe calls for quite a lot of white chocolate for the pattern but I only had less than half in the cupboard (I tend to raid the white chocolate stash) and I still had more than enough.

You do need cream with this pud, it is seriously rich. But it's really really good and so simple. Definitely a take along pud.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pork chops in a cider sauce.

As usual it's been quite a while since we eat this one, but I remember it was so easy to make. Fry the chop, let it rest and then make the sauce in the same pan, with cream and cider and a few herbs. Yummy. I like dishes where you can stick the potatoes on to cook and make everything else in the time it takes them to cook. I did let the sauce reduce a bit too much this time, but that seems to happen a lot in our house with so many distractions and a toddler crying with hunger and clutching at your trousers. Thankfully Zoe is getting really good at distracting him in times of need and he seems to find anything she does hilarious. This will be a make again, just need to encourage little ones to eat pork!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Salmon and Sweet potato cakes.

These are quite a nice lunchtime meal although it does have a little work involved. Everything needs to be cooked in advance and then you fry it off as a cake. I have to be honest, I wasn't keen on these, They were really wet when putting them together but I didn't like the flavour. I like sweet potato but I found it too rich with the salmon too. As to them being a bit sloppy but that is probably my fault because I couldn't take the time to squeeze the water out. Not a complete success and we have other fishcake recipes that we usually use so to be honest I think we'll go back to them. Not a criticism just not for us! (Well Mark liked them)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Just like curries and stir frys we love Paella. I think anything that can be cooked in one pan is the best type of food. This one is pretty similar to our regular recipe, chorizo, chicken prawns, rice and saffron. Can't go far wrong and it was tasty. We had this one last week and have eaten paella again since, but we have reverted to our usual. Probably because Mark just does it, it's his recipe he always makes the paella. It just doesn't taste right whenever I make it. So it gets the thumbs up from us, but we love Paella anyone, so it was never going to be a problem.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Thai Green Curry

When I first read through this recipe I was really shocked: SHOP BOUGHT CURRY PASTE. I couldn't believe it, surely homemade is best. So I closed the book and of course, it's called Home Cooking Made Easy. Doh, why make a paste when you can buy really good ones. There are a couple of additions to make it a little bit more special. Not just paste and coconut milk here. There are peas and basil to start with. All in all a really good curry and now we have the rest of the curry paste for next time which is never a bad thing in case of emergency.

This will be a quiet week for me, not in terms of work but cooking. I've been almost forced not to cook anything from the book this week. It's due to a mixture of professional work load along with my daughters first christmas fayre and I have committed to making an inordinate amount of cakes and cake pops. But it does mean that I can catch up with past makes on the blog, as I've mentioned before I am really far behind. You can probably tell, it's been a while since I made the curry and I can't remember much of the make!!! But it was easy and it was tasty.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Chicken Kiev with roasted carrots

I have to be honest I've been putting this one off for a while now, not because it didn't taste good but because it looks horrendous in the picture. All that orange!!!! In terms of dishes this one includes a whopping three, not including the potatoes. It has the kiev as well as the flavoured butter inside which are separate recipes in the book. The roasted carrots are also another. The kiev is pretty straight forward, bang out the chicken, place a slice of garlic butter in the middle, roll it up and cover it in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs caused me problems. They are specified as dry breadcrumbs so you can't just whiz up an old crust out of the bread bin. I spent ages wandering around Tesco looking for panko crumbs, which I had definitely seen there (anyone who watches Masterchef Austrailia will know what I'm talking about) . But of course in Tescos ultimate wisdom of what the shopper really wants, they have moved everything around, and in the strangest way and combination of products. It drove me insane, it used to make sense all the things they had together, it's almost as if someone in an office got bored and decided just for fun, lets screw with the people of wrexham......aarrrgghhhhhh. Ok rant over, didn't/couldn't find them. But then I had the most ingenious cooking idea I think I've ever had, anyone with small children will have a box of breadsticks in the house, my house is no exception and for some reason my children wont eat them anymore. But they make the best crispy coating ever!!!! Honestly they were brilliant. They made the dish.

Roasted carrots, well what can you say, put in roasting pan and bake in the oven, done. I also sliced potatoes in a similar way to the chicken recipe because they were yummy. So it may not be pretty but it was pretty tasty.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Pain d'epi

In the past few days I've been in contact with a fellow blogger who is making her way through Mary Berrys Baking Bible. I have the upmost respect for both the Lady Berry and also the blogger for what she is undertaking She has over 250 recipes to get through and I think all of them are sweet. When I was making my way through the first book the biggest problem I had was to somehow get rid of all the sweet stuff so that I wouldn't have to eat it all myself. Thank fully I have lots of very willing friends who are prepared to sample my bakes, but what amazes me most is she makes everything look so pretty. Just looking at the photographs of my food, I'm just so pleased to have got another out of the way that I just grab the photo and tuck in.

So as you can see from the photographs above, I don't suddenly have a new career direction when it comes to photography. Thankfully though I do enjoy my labours and I got the chance to make bread. Since watching the bake off I've been desperate to make bread again and there's always a reason not to. Children being one, planning to do for school, laminating, cutting out, report writing etc. But by undertaking a project like this it means you have to do it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being forced into this I really enjoy it and I loved making the bread. Apart from the very pointy ends I was quite pleased with it too. So often I think I've killed the yeast in the past but after a top tip from Paul Hollywood I'm getting past the salt/ yeast fiasco.

As for the soup, well it was really yummy, warming and tasty with a hint of ginger, even Zoe lapped it up so it must have been ok. So to work on for the next few weeks are my presentation skills. Been a bit lacking, won't see the results for a while as I'm so behind on updating the blog. This whole back to work and lots of cooking is not always a great mix.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Shepherds Pie

You can't beat a decent shepherds pie on a cold autumn evening in my book. My problem is the amount of time it takes to cook them. For most people midweek meals need to take less than 30 minutes from start to finish, well in my house they do. The problem with shepherds pie is you spend all that time making the meat sauce, boiling and mashing potatoes and then after all that you still need to spend at least 30 mins baking it! I'm sure there are people out there who spend their weekends preparing for the mid week situation and have a pie ready in the fridge just to stick in the oven when needed. Well I'm sorry I'm not that person. It's similar to a lasagne really all that work just to get half way there. Saying all that though, I do really like Shepherds pie and this is a pretty good one, very tasty. It's just all too much hard work for my liking.