Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Rioja-braised lamb shanks with chorizo & garlic

Lamb shanks are not something we have very often and every time we do cook them we always wonder why we don't have them more often. They are completely delicious, and adding chorizo and garlic just makes them all the more scrumptious. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe which can be a downside to many of the recipes in the book. But despite all those ingredients it is a case of getting everything in the pot and cooking. We had it with mashed potato, in fact I think we'll be making this again soon, especially as it's getting so cold!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Big Tipsy Trifle.

When a dish is the one you find on the front cover, then I think you automatically have great expectations of it, this is the one to make. This is the showstopper, as Paul and Mary would say. Well this is a massive trifle. I didn't have a bowl big enough, or the stomach to make the entire thing. I reduced the ingredients by half and made it in one of my mixing bowls (note to self, ask for some nice presentation things for christmas!) But even in a simple Pyrex bowl I was really pleased with the way this turned out. It is mainly mixing ingredients and then just placing them in the correct order, very simple.

But when you taste it, you do end up wishing you'd made the bigger one because the leftovers would have been fantastic. I great dessert, very simple, very tasty.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Deep fried Camembert

Well I have a confession, I can't even remember when we had these, I think we had them as part of our Easter Sunday meal but it could even have been Christmas! I've been scolding myself for not updating this blog over the summer holidays but just haven't found the time. We've been away in the tent quite a few times. Anyway, deep fried camambert! This lovely little dish is probably a huge contributor to why the whole of our household is now on a serious diet. This is so moreish. Mark doesn't usually like soft cheeses like this but he seemed to be enjoying this one! But then anything deep friend is going to be good.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Shameless, flourless, moist and sticky chocolate cake

Now in the home cooking book, different courses and types of food are split into sections, such as savoury, cakes or desserts. Now this one you'd expect to be in cakes, but it's classed as a dessert and once you taste it you realise why. This is a really moist, rich and scrummy cake. I could easily eat all of this by myself. I treated us by using decent chocolate to make it and it does make such a difference. While I was working through the baking made easy book I tended to keep to cheaper ingredients because it made a big difference to the weekly shop. But with this one, because I'm not getting through it quite so quickly, now I'm back at work I do try and treat myself as much as possible. The great thing about this cake is that it's gluten free, so it's practically heathly!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lemony basil spaghetti with mascarpone, chilli and chives.

This was never going to be a popular dish our house because Mark would spend most of dinner time looking for the meat. He feels it's never quite a proper meal without a decent slab of protein hiding somewhere in there. I don't mind going without as long as the dish can stand up for itself in terms of flavour and filling ability. This was a really tasty dish, it's got chilli in it so really it can't go far wrong. The great thing about it though is just how easy it is to make. That's the wonderful thing about using a cream cheese like mascarpone to make sauces, they cut the preparation time and difficulty in half. So all in all a tasty dish in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti. Lovely.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Asian ribs with spicy cornbread

Ok, so maybe a strange combination for a Saturday lunchtime but I didn't really know what else to have each of them with. The ribs do taste good and are really simple but there is no sauce, well on these there wasn't any. I was hoping to mop up sticky juices with the cornbread but it turned into quite a dry meal. The cornbread probably wasn't as spicy as it was meant to be because I made it for the children to eat but it was tasty. These aren't on the top of my list of things to make again. I think I need some education on American food because whenever I see it made it looks so fantastic and I want to dive in, but I just can't seem to get it right.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

We don't have a lot of soup in our house, mainly because the children seem to be really suspicious of liquid food, to the point where they won't even have tomato sauce (which to be honest I'm quite relieved about). So a comforting noodle soup was needed on a cold february lunchtime. It was delicious, but there is a lot involved in making it. All the vegetables need to be chopped quite carefully. We're used to a couple of pieces of potato or leek and then blitzing it all together. I think we'll add more ginger next time and chilli and keep it as an adult only meal, it definitely needed a bit more kick to it. So a make again, but with added spice.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Graffiti Cake

Well it has been a while! I made this cake as my birthday cake back in January. As far as the cake itself is concerned it's a pretty straight forward sponge with buttercream icing. The magic comes with the decoration. I didn't quite manage to get the brilliant red that Lorraine achieves. I think I got a bit uneasy about the amount of colouring that was going in, and it looks a lot darker in the jug before you start pouring it out.

I was quite pleased with the result but I did have a lot of problems lifting it once I'd poured it. It completely stuck to the greaseproof paper, so when it went on the cake it was definitely a jigsaw finding the right space for the pieces I had. So I finally managed to get the cake surrounded by the sugar and very proud of my work until I came to putting it into the box to take it to work the next day. There was no way the lid was going on, my graffiti was too tall!! Thankfully I didn't take a picture of that version, it all got a bit bent.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Pea and Mint soup

Peas are definitely the most popular vegetable in our house. We've always got some in and I know that the children will always eat them. So when I made this I thought there would be no problem about everybody enjoying it. No such luck, I don't think they could quite connect the bowl of green to the happy little peas they usually see on their plate. This is a shame because it was really simple to make. Boil peas, blend and serve. The middle is a mint mascarpone made with chopped mint leaves.

Both myself and my husband enjoyed it although I don't think I could have eaten more than the small helping I had. There is only so much of the taste of pea I can take, which is why we usually have some with a lamb chop!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

White chocolate, ginger and lemon mousse

Another easy peasy chocolate pudding from Lorraine. Even before I started cooking this I cut the quantities down as there was only three adults eating this, this was by half. But we still managed to have enough for four generous portions. This has to be one of the richest desserts I have ever eaten. If you make this don't be stingy with the ginger. I should have cut the pieces much smaller as they did spoil it a little but it would have cut through the chocolate a little more with extra ginger.

It was one of the very few occasions that I didn't manage to finish my portion of this dessert, and in fact it lasted me a few evening trying to get through it. If you love white chocolate you will love this, if you don't or only just like it a little then don't go there. Make a really nice dark chocolate mousse with the ginger instead.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Scotch Egg

I can't believe how quickly these weeks are going past, even with a weeks holiday this is the first chance I've had to sit down and update the blog. So, scotch eggs. It's been quite a few years since I had eaten a scotch egg and that was a ready made, multi pack from Tesco when I was about ten. Now when Lorraine describes these on her programme she makes such a big thing about journeys and having to buy a scotch egg. I couldn't quite believe this knowing what a shop bought scotch egg tastes like. Well, how things can change when you make it yourself. Yes they can be a bit of a faff but completely worth it.

I mean, just look at that egg, how yummy does it look!!!!  I spread the sausage meat out on some cling film and tried to draw it up around the egg, this is the messy bit and I did end up spreading to thin in places and thick in others.

Would I make them again? Probably not unless there was a specific call for scotch eggs but they filled a lunchtime hole nicely.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Gooey Pecan pie

Well it seems to have been ages since I wrote about something sweet. I find it so much easier talking about the sweet things I make, shows where my true passions lie I suppose. I love pecan pie, when I was young we used to get this fantastic pecan dessert with cinnamon, it was like a huge danish pastry. For years I've been trying to find that dessert which I think came from a freezer section of a supermarket but I've never found it or anything to match it. So the next best thing is pecan pie, although sadly lacking the cinnamon. This is a good one, especially as it is gooey. I'm quite proud of the pastry too, I'm still a bit hesitant when I make it but it turns out well more often than not these days. The practice is starting to pay off.

For some reason, in my pie all the pecans floated to the top, where as in Lorraines picture they are all spread out. Don't know why, but didn't really matter because it still tasted really good. Yum

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cheese and Ham Bread

The great thing about cooking through Lorriaine book is the chance to make bread. I'm sure I've mentioned it before but I love making bread but never have the time. I made this loaf on a saturday morning for lunch. From watching the The Great British Bake Off there was a brilliant episode at the end where Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry gave lots of tips about some of the recipes. The tip I learnt was don't put the salt directly on yeast because it will die. So from then on I'm always really careful when I mix the dough. I'm still pretty lazy though and end up using the dough hook on my kitchen aid. This was quite a simple loaf to make and and because it includes cheese and ham you know it's going to be tasty.

As you can see from the picture I always seem to end up with quite stodgy bread, I'm not sure why, could be because I don't knead it for long enough or I don't let it prove for long nough or it isn't warm enough. Anyway, a lot of my bread comes out with the texture of a fudgey cake. Saying that though it does taste nice and was lovely with the big bowl of warm soup, especially with this freezing cold weather.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Fish 'n' Chips

My goodness it seems ages since I made this. Every now and then we treat ourselves to a friday night dinner of take out fish and chips. But there it was in the book, so it had to be done. I'm not confident using the deep fat fryer so I had to have Mark on hand to help me out. I think I had too many safety films drummed into me while I was at primary school about chip fans going on fire and the firemen having to come out, along with the death scene at an electric station where the boy kicks his football in and dies trying to retrieve it. Well it worked for me, scared me out of using fryers for the rest of my life! Anyway, we have a deep fat fryer, Tesco Value, which doesn't fill you with confidence, but it does the job. It's a pretty simple dish to make up, mix up the batter dip in the fish and fry, alongside cooking your chips, also deep fried.

Of course, this would be no ordinary batter, we're talking about Lorraine here, so it's beer battered fish and chips. I do know that bubbles make a good batter, along with cold bubbles (mmm champagne batter??!!) but because of my fear of the fryer I don't think I cooked them for long enough. It still tasted nice but the batter was slightly soggy in places. But the most important part of this meal on this particular day was the lovely excuse to have a pint of cold beer to go with it, well I had to finish the bottle!!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mum's chilli con carne

Again, it's been quite a while since my last post. Our house seems to have been hit by the plague recently. I've basically been bed bound for a week and cooking has been non-existent. I did find time to make myself a birthday cake and a few cookies so it wasn't all bad.

So back to the cooking. This is called Mum's chilli con carne in the book. As far as chilli's go it's not out of the ordinary, no ingredients that are going to stand out as being different. We usually make chilli from any leftover bolognaise sauce, which is soo lazy so it was quite nice to have a sauce that was chilli specific. This has a few extra spices that I wouldn't use, such as cumin. But this is alongside the usual chilli and cayenne pepper. This is a really good chilli, with a nice warm heat that isn't overpowering. We'll be making a few adjustments to our usual sauce but we'll stick to our lazy ways.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Roly poly ice cream cake

I really don't think there is a simpler pudding than this. I almost felt guilty making it because it involves no cooking at all. Compared to the one in the book this is a miniature version. I used the jumbo version of swiss rolls, this was a medium sized pyrex bowl and one swiss roll was enough. Then stuffed it with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Your meant to leave it in the freezer overnight but I made this a couple of hours before we were going to eat but it was still firm enough. Swiss rolls are strange things, they didn't freeze. It suddenly hit me that I was going to have to cut through it to serve and it was fine. Even when I had another portion a few days later they still hadn't frozen, very very strange! A definite hit in our house, well you can't really go wrong with chocolate cake and ice cream.....

Monday, 16 January 2012

Mini Beef Wellington

Where do I start? These little lovelies caused me so many problems even before I'd started cooking. We had these on New Years Day, family for dinner so did something nice. Well, sort of. Off we went to the butchers to buy the beef. It states in the recipe to buy fillet steak, now anyone who remembers my posts from the first blog (I know it's unlikely) will remember that I made the huge mistake of buying fillet without checking the price, not going to make that mistake again. At the moment it is £35 a kilo!!!! Safe to say, needing about 700g I was not going to buy fillet. I twittered Lorraine for alternative suggestions and got the ideas of maybe chicken or lamb instead but I wanted to keep it as authentic as I could. The second butcher we went to on the Mold Road were brilliant. He suggested sirloin, and even cut them for me.

Happily I started to prepare the wellingtons, this involves chopping millions of mushrooms, which I don't like and cooking them down in butter. You also seal the beef. Here is the biggest mistake I made. Everything was too warm when I started putting the wellingtons together. First rule of using pastry IT NEEDS TO STAY COOL!!!! I made two versions of the wellington, two with mushrooms and two without. This produced very different results.
As you can see in the picture, it exploded. This is after I chilled them in the fridge for 3 hours before cooking them, the hot mushrooms had already ruin the pastry beyond repair. Thankfully the two that didn't have mushrooms came out quite well. The only problem using sirloin is the size, they were enormous! They took up half the plate. Very tasty and well worth the effort, if I could afford it I'd make it with fillet but our budget version seemed to work out ok.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Goats Cheese Truffles and Cheese twists

As you can see from the pictures, these two dishes were a complete and utter disaster. I was asked to make some nibbles for christmas before our meal, no problem. Then I completely forgot I'd agreed to make them and luckily I had some of the ingredients in, well sort of.

Let me start with the truffles, Lorraine makes them look so simple, the recipe is so simple. But it does help that I bought the completely wrong type of goats cheese. I was in the supermarket doing a random shop and spotted the cheese and something in my head went, I'm sure I need some goats cheese I better buy it. As it got closer to christmas and I was reminded about making nibbles I happily checked the cheese, reading soft goats cheese and went, yes it's fine I've got the cheese. Well it was completely the wrong sort of soft cheese. Not knowing goats cheese very well I didn't realise there were varieties of softness and I had it very wrong. The worst thing was I made these christmas morning so no chance of nipping to the shops to buy more. So I had to mould some pretty hard cheese into little boulders and cover them. Thankfully you do brush them with honey first anyway, but these needed extra. Only one was eaten on the day and I'm not surprised, I didn't want one. So lesson is check the softness of your cheese.

The second nibble were the cheese twists. I had everything in the house for these, but I became very impatient. I got the pastry out of the freezer far to late and was waiting for it to thaw. So much that there was no time to put the twists back into the fridge before baking so what came out were these strange oozing cheesy things, not pretty. Again, not many got eaten. Thankfully my wonderful sister in law had some smoked salmon on blinis ready to go so we didn't get hungry. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Caramelised Banana and Pecan Bread Pudding

Well what do you make when you have loads of bananas and a humongous pandoro to eat. Well the above pudding with a few tweaks. Those with eagle eyes may notice the lack of pecan nuts. This is true I swapped them for chocolate coins. I didn't bother putting any butter on the bread either, the pandoro was so sweet and buttery anyway I didn't want to add any unnecessary fat (yeah, I know, too late!!).  I bought the pandoro along with a panetone about 2 months before christmas and pressies and then as usual I completely forgot about them. I found a home for the panetone but we ended up keeping the pandoro, and despite trying to dish it out on christmas day there was no way we would be able to eat it all. This thing was huge. I would say  diameter of 10 inches and a height of more than 12 inches. More than half ended up as worm food. But the quarter that went into this little baby was well worth it. This is a really simple pud, basically mix milk, eggs and sugar together and pour over bread. Bake in the oven. I used chocolate coins because we had no pecans in the house, they didn't melt in the way I would have expected them too, you can see the ones on the top are whole and went really hard.

Very nice on it's own but day two (it lasted a while) we had it with chocolate sauce. I was so impressed with myself, no recipe and spur of the moment. I had the end of a tub of cream and some chocolate buttons. Heated the cream and then let the buttons melt in it for a while before mixing, so the same method as ganache but different quantities.

So this is the bowl of sweetness. I didn't manage to get to the end of this, try as I might. I'm not a fan of bread and butter pudding anyway despite my Dads best efforts when I was younger, just bread in a pudding is wrong and the added problem of currants. The banana definitely made it slightly more tempting and changing the bread to cake. But be warned it is seriously sweet. The chocolate sauce did help but make it a dark chocolate, really dark.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Hamper Gifts

For christmas this year I made the strange decision to make food gifts for my friends at christmas. Whilst going through the process I was adament that I would never, ever do it again. The stress of making the food leaving enough time to deliver to everyone and for it to survuve in their fridge long enough so they don't have to eat it instantly. Then there is the question of packaging everything and making little labels. Arrghhhh, I spent every night in the kitchen making two or three items  surrounded by cellophane and little jars and boxes. But after all that it was completely worth the effort. The great thing was that I had plenty of things left from each batch to be able to give everybody at work something too. So what did I make?
Winter spiced lemon curd with cinnamon and cloves. There was a moment while I was making this that I thought the world was about to come and swallow me home. I know looking back it wasn't that big a deal, but I do go into slight neurotic meltdowns when things don't quite go to plan. It looked like the mixture had completely curdled until I realised that the butter wasn't melting. I must have had the heat so low in a worry about curdling that nothing was cooking so I wacked the heat up and it was fine. When I make it in future I think I'll melt the butter before I start. It didn't get quite as thick as a shop bought curd and maybe if I'd boiled it for longer it would have. But it still tasted good.

Peanut Butter Truffles. I love peanut butter and I love chocolate but I'm not a big fan of combining them. I wasn't sure about putting something into a hamper that I wouldn't eat but Mark said they were nice so in they went. The last time I tried to make truffles the mixture just didn't get hard so I was very relieved when these worked. Really need to make sure the peanut butter is stirred in though because when I was rolling them I had huge lumps of the stuff.

Apple and Blackberry Chutney. I love chutney with cheese, but strangely I haven't tried it yet. I have a huge jar of it still sitting in the garage but I just can't bring myself to try it. The smell of cooking vinegar was so potent while I was making it that I can't face tasting it, incase that's all I can taste. Soon I will.

Marshmallow and brown sugar fudge. This recipe is amazing. The last time I made fudge it just didn't harden or you felt like you would have a heart attack with each piece. My husbands answer to failing fudge is to stick it in melted chocolate and it'll be fine. But this one, it was hardening almost as soon as it hit the tin. After the lemon curd this was my favourite thing in the hamper and we will definitely be making it again.

Overall the hampers were well received, although no news on the chutney yet. So I will do it again, but maybe not next year I don't think I could take the stress so soon.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Prociutto and Brie Toastie

I had great pleasure in making this, it contains so many things I like especially brie. Despite lots of attempts with the little ones I am still only brie eater in the house so it was great that I had an excuse to buy some for this recipe. For some reason I bought a slightly wholemeal loaf so it didn't really toast nicely and looks really burnt in the picture. It was absolutely delicious and the next time I have an excuse just to make lunch for myself it will be at the top of my list. Next time though it will be even better, as you can see the toast is burnt and the brie hasn't really melted. Lesson learnt, cook on a lower heat with more butter/oil. Also, definitely use white bread, toasted sandwiches have to be white bread from now on in our house. Yum.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Cracked black pepper pasta with creamy sauce

I amazed even myself with this dish. I made the pasta myself! I have been putting off this little number for a while now. We've had a pasta machine in the house for well over a year and have used it once, which was a complete disaster. It was too sticky, it wouldn't go though the rollers and we over cooked it, yuk. But this time I seem to have got to grips with it. I followed Lorraines pasta recipe but halving the quantities and then happily put it through the machine. I kept waiting for the moment when it would all go wrong. I did have a slightly sticky moment when I rolled out the pasta and cut it in half because it was getting too long and dealt with one half the other got stuck to the worktop. Add flour, my biggest tip. The other is have the hangers ready, I didn't and ended up with bits of tagliatelle everywhere.

The sauce is very simple, fry bacon/pancetta add mushrooms and stir in cream. Although it turned out we didn't have any cream in the house (I'd used it to make a chocolate sauce the night before, whoops!) so I ended up using the end of a creme fraise tub which was fine, but wasn't quite enough. I made the excuse it was the low fat version which is completely true! The best thing was that the children eat it all, so I don't think I'll make the pasta again, although it was delicious I will definitely be serving up the dish again, the low fat version.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Steamed Mars Bar Pudding

This definitely caused me a few problems this pudding. I had to buy a pudding bowl, thankfully a local supermarket had some in at half price. Of course what I hadn't realised was that the basin was too small and as you can see from the pictures the pudding exploded! Thankfully I'd left quite a lot of room above the pudding when I wrapped it in the foil. Then when I turned it out you can see the result, think it was undercooked but boy did it taste nice. Lovely gooy centre and chocolate sauce. I did have problems with the sauce, you melt mars bars in a pan, admittedly I did use less than the recipe states but I couldn't bring myself to melt 5 for just the two of us!!! But while I was melting I think it seized because I ended up with this gloopy mixture and not smooth and runny as the recipe would suggest. Apart from that it's pretty easy to make and if you can stand the smell of cooking mars bars while it boils then it's well worth the effort. But check the size of your pudding bowl first!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Stove-top haddock with fennel seeds and basil.

We definitely don't eat enough fish in our house. I love fish but I'm really fussy about when and where to buy it. I have always been told never buy fish on a Sunday because they don't land fish so it would always be a day old. The problem we have is that we do our shopping on a Sunday. I also like to buy fish from the fishmonger but then there is the hassle of getting there and on a day when you need to go into town. To cut a long story short I made a special effort and we had this dish midweek. This has to be one of the easiest dishes, also because it uses a lot of ingredients that we have in anyway. The biggest difference was canned cherry tomatoes, which are really nice and now we buy them a bit more often. Basically cook everything in the pan and you can do it all in the time it takes to cook rice. The flavours were really good, I love fennel and anything aniseed, children weren't quite so impressed though. But for a quick mid week supper a definite repeat but might just slightly alter the flavour so the fussy one will eat.