22 December 2010

Rum-soaked Baked Apples

I only wish you could smell how glorious these are!
I'd had two Bramley Apples roosting in the fridge, looking for something to do, for far too long.

So, in the face of hubby's dislike of Baked Apples, I thought I'd give myself a treat and see whether our son was going to come down on his father's side, or on mine, as regards the loveliness that is the baked apple.

I find it very difficult to understand hubby's dislike of the humble baked apple, although I do recognise that some people just don't like certain textures, or flavours, or looks of food.  Personally, there's little I don't like sufficiently to make me avoid it, so understanding someone else's dislikes is particularly difficult.

For me, the sight of a couple of lovely Bramley Apples just out of the oven, brimming with mixed fruit, covered with brown sugar, trickles of butter running down their foamy sides, glistening with juice and just asking to be paired with a dollop of cream, is one of life's joys.

For hubby, he sees nothing appealing in this picture at all.  He prefers his apples to be crisp and sharp rather than cooked and foamy, the sugar to be cooked (as in melted) rather than crunchy and just can't relate to the pairing of butter with apple.

So, with instructions not to say anything that will put son off trying them, we sallied forth into dessert.  Son had seen the apples just out of the oven and by the size of his eyeballs and the watering of his mouth, the signs were good.  Not only did he clear his bowlful, but he came back for seconds and ate the remainder for dessert the following day.

I have to admit, it was good to have him follow his Mum in something - for once!


Ingredients :

2 large Bramley Apples
4-6 tsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp dried mixed fruit
1 lemon, zested
half a tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp spiced rum

Method :

1.  Place the mixed fruit, cinnamon and lemon zest into a small bowl and pour the rum over.  Leave it to soak for 2-3 hours.

2.  Remove the cores from the apples, without cutting them in half.

3.  Score around the middle of the apple, so that when it cooks, the peel can rise.

4.  Score two lines from the top to the first score line.  This will help when it comes to serving half an apple.

5.  Place the apples into a baking dish.

6.  Fill the cavities with the soaked fruit & divide any liquid between them.

7.  Place a knob of butter on top of the fruit, and press down.

8.  Fill the remaining cavity (to overflowing) with the brown sugar.  Sprinkle the remainder around the apples.

9.  Add a tbsp or two of water (the amount depends on the size of your dish and the amount of rum you've included) to ensure the apples don't dry out.

10.  Bake at 180deg for 35-40 minutes or until a knife runs through the apple (via the centre split) easily.

Serve with cream, creme fraiche, or greek yoghurt.


Goan Fish Curry

Original version, minus okra
This was my first go at a) a Goan curry and b) a fish curry.  I'd say it was - for me - around 85% successful, however for my son & hubby, 95% successful.

For me, it was a little one-dimensional.  The original recipe didn't contain any lemon juice or okra and even with the tamarind paste, I felt it just needed that sharpness that lemon juice brings.  I had dithered and dathered over whether to include okra or not and was dubious about the texture of okra combined with the fish.  However, having sampled the original version, I'd definitely include okra in the mk. 2 version.

I used cod in the original version and again, I'd change that to haddock when I try it again.  The flavoursome sauce did a very good job of wiping out the delicate flavour of the cod, so I feel that haddock would stand up to it a lot better.

I served ours with rice, although I can't help but think that with the addition of a carbohydrate-based vegetable to the curry - such as potato, or sweet potato - you could easily dispense with the rice and just go for Naan bread as an accompaniment.  Served from warmed bowls, with naan to dip and scoop with, would be ideal.

Goan fish curry - very good with a Cobra beer!
GOAN FISH CURRY  (serves 3-4)

Ingredients :

2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1 dried red chilli
olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced
a small piece root ginger, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp turmeric
400ml tin coconut milk
a handful of Okra, top & tailed, then diced
1 tsp tamarind paste 
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 green chillies, finely sliced
300g firm white fish cut into chunks
fresh coriander, to garnish

Method :

Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the onion with a big pinch of salt until soft and golden.

Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and ground spices and fry for 1 minute.

Add the coconut, tamarind, lemon juice, okra and green chillies and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the fish and cook for 3-4 minutes until just cooked.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve. 

17 December 2010

Hold on! Wait for me!

I can't believe how time is escaping at the moment!  Here we are at the dawn of the weekend and I haven't even got around to telling you what happened at the end of last week - never mind where we were headed with this week's menus!

It's Christmas, you see.  That's what I blame it on.  I swear, I'm going to start organising - and buying - for Christmas next August.  It's the only way.

So - what happened at the end of last week (aka Monday)?  We were due to have a Shepherd's Pie, cooked by hubby, and much anticipated.  Didn't happen.  Why?  Well may you ask!  Flipping Christmas got in the way, again.  Poor old hubby spent all day christmas shopping while I was at work, so we took pity on him and bought frozen pizza from Sainsbury's.  Ahhhhh - all together now.  *chuckle*  Well, it didn't seem right to have him slaving over a hot stove when he'd been wearing out his shoes up and down from Bournemouth to Boscombe all day.

Tuesday began the new week's menus and to start off what promises to be a good week, I had booked in a Pork Ragu with Chocolate and Tagliatelle.  This one is a real gem, as not only was it easy-peasy to create, but it tasted truly delightful - and even got the thumbs up from our son.  Can't ask for more than that!  If you're even a tiny bit intrigued by it, print it out and put it on your dinner table - you won't regret it!

Wednesday continued my "attempt to have son happily eat aubergines" when I had booked in Sausages (see appeal for 12yr old?) with Parmigian di melanzane (or Aubergines with Mozzarella and Parmesan).  I figure that if I serve the aubergines completely plastered in a tomato sauce and Mozzarella, he can't help but eat them.  Well, I was almost right, if it wasn't for his adeptness at peeling the Mozzarella from the top.  He did at least eat the middle of the aubergine, even if he baulked at eating it's black skin.  What IS it with children (or maybe it's just my child) and the colour of the food he eats?  Bizarre.

Thursday brought about the welcome (and by now, much anticipated) Shepherd's Pie.  Now I say Shepherd's Pie and that's what I mean, as it utilised 500g of Lamb Mince.  No faux-Shepherds around here, thankyou very much!  Mmmmn, but it was lovely.  Really lamby with perfect mashed potato on top.  Hubby had opted for a departure from our usual run of vegetables, by the inclusion of some Celeriac.  Son declared it to be tasty and indeed I agree with him.  It's been a long while since I had Celeriac and I can see it appearing more often now we've made it's re-acquaintance.

So that brings us up to date (as I write this) with Friday's first attempt at a Goan Curry - and my first attempt at a fish curry, (that doesn't involve prawns).  I can remember, at one time, fancying making a fish curry but being far too overfaced by the idea of possibly over-cooking the fish.  I guess it's a measure of how far I've come, that I can view the possibility with relative equanimity.  My one real challenge is to make the sauce thick enough to please Hubby, yet thin enough to make it a Goan Curry, as opposed to any other curry!  We shall see.

Saturday is an old family favourite, that of Muffin topped mince.  It's a bit like a Teviot pie, except with a fluffier (and suet-free) topping.  The Muffin in this instance is made with cheddar cheese, which does a similar job to suet but with a lighter (and tastier, to my mind) finish.  With a lovely savoury mince in a thick gravy underneath, it makes a smashing comfort food fix.  Bearing in mind that we're likely to have a decent amount of snow on Saturday, it will probably be a first that I haven't served salad with snow on the ground!  I've bought a little Sweetheart Cabbage and we'll have that with butter-glazed carrots and peas.  Yummy!

Sunday is one of those "salad in the snow" days, as referred to above.  It's not quite as bad as all that, though, as topping the bill is a Pasticcio di spaghetti con salmone affumicato e gamberoni.  Or, "layered spaghetti with smoked salmon and prawns".  Right.  We'll have a side salad with avocado alongside.  Again, this is another dish I've never made before, but the idea of oven-baking a) spaghetti, b) smoked salmon and c) prawns was too intriguing to resist.  I'm hoping that the 100g packets of smoked salmon offcuts will do nicely, considering I can't afford "nice" smoked salmon - but we'll find that out on Sunday!

Monday is one of Hubby's "in the kitchen" days and all being well with the Christmas Shopping (my god, if we haven't finished it by then ....) he should be cooking up a lovely Chilli Con Carne - except this time, filled with enthusiasm by the addition of chocolate to the Pork Ragu, he's anticipating using a little chocolate in his Chilli.  Can't wait!


16 December 2010

Parmigiana di melanzane - or Aubergines with Mozzarella and Parmesan

I first made this dish to accompany a roast chicken - which it did very well.  It occurred to me at the time, that it would be good with a lot of other types of meat and especially greasy types like Pork or Gammon, or types that tend towards dryness, as with Chicken.

Although the dish is heaving with cheese, it really isn't greasy.  Because of the juiciness of the tomato & basil sauce, it works so well with the cheeses and the aubergine.

I served today's Parmigiana di melanzane with sausages.  It almost seemed too good for the humble sausage!


Ingredients :

2 aubergines, sliced thinly
olive oil
300g mozzarella, sliced
115g parmesan, grated
3 tbsp crispy breadcrumbs
1 tbsp butter
For the tomato & basil sauce :
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
3 banana shallots, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2-3 shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
salt & pepper

1.  Arrange the aubergine slices in a single layer on 1-2 baking sheets.  Brush with olive oil and season, then bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6, for 15-20 minutes, until tender, but not collapsing.

2.  Meanwhile, make the tomato and basil sauce.

3.  Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the tomatoes, with their can juices, and break them up.  Stir in the sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened.  Stir in the basil leaves.

3.  Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil and arrange half the aubergine slices in the base.  Cover with half the mozzarella, spoon over half the tomato sauce and sprinkle with half the Parmesan.  Mix the remaining Parmesan with the breadcrumbs.  Make more layers, ending with the Parmesan mixture.

4.  Dot the top with butter and bake for 25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

5.  Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes, before slicing and serving.

Avocado & Stilton Dip

Unfortunately not my dip - we were far too
keen to eat it - but one that looks like mine!
I was sitting in the living room, considering the shopping list for tomorrow and beginning to feel rather peckish.

As part of my consideration (of the shopping list), I had pondered on whether the avocado in the vegetable drawer of the fridge would be too old for use in a salad on Sunday.  I decided it was.

So I made Avocado and Stilton Dip with it instead.  It was beautiful with oatcakes and according to Hubby, went admirably well with Kettle Chips, too.


Ingredients :

A ripe avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
A 2cm square cube of blue cheese - I used Stilton
1 tbsp mayonnaise
salt & pepper to taste

Method :

1.  Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and skin, then dice into a bowl.

2.  Add the lemon juice and mash with a fork.  It is not necessary to eliminate all lumpiness, because of the lumps of blue cheese.  If lumps bother you, them prepare in a blender.

3.  Add the greek yoghurt and stir to combine.  Then crumble the cheese in and stir to combine.  Next, add the mayonnaise and stir to combine again.

4.  Taste, which will help you to decide how much salt & pepper you prefer.  Season and stir one last time.

Break out the crudites!

15 December 2010

"Sneaky Lemon and Hubby Gets a Cob On" : Bournemouth Echo "Taste" blog

Sneaky Lemon and Hubby Gets a Cob On : blog post on Bournemouth Echo's "Taste" blog

Sicilian Pork Ragu with Chocolate : c/o "A Glug of Oil"

Just how lovely does that look?
I found this recipe on the excellent "A Glug of Oil" blog some two or three months ago.  It immediately intrigued me in its use of dark chocolate, not least because of the conjunction with pork mince, but the use of tagliatelle instead of the more usual accompaniments of rice or vegetables.  (More usual, that is, when accompanying mince - rather than accompanying a Sicilian dish).

I held onto it for two reasons.  Firstly, because I needed a little time in which to "get my head around" the idea of using chocolate in this context, and secondly because we never seemed to have the right ingredients around at the same time.

I found myself, this week, with not only some red wine in the fridge but a small block of dark chocolate too.  Bingo!  I could break out the recipe at last.

I loved the result.  The juxtaposition of the cinnamon and the dark chocolate beside the rich tomato and pork mince is not one I have experienced before, but boy oh boy is it good.  I felt that the dish needed some herb input and opted for parsley (as that was the only remotely suitable herb I had to hand), but in retrospect I think that basil would have sat more easily beside the chocolate - which isn't a strong flavour, but is evident nonetheless.

This one will definitely re-appear on the menu list, as it resulted in clear plates all round.


Ingredients :

1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g pork mince
175ml red wine
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground cinnamon
500g Passata
15g dark chocolate
1 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
knob of butter
3-4 basil leaves, shredded

Method :

1.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion.  Cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured.

2.  Now add the minced pork, stirring and breaking it up as you go.  You may need to increase the heat to prevent the pork from braising.  Allow the meat to brown slightly, but not burn.

3.  Stir in the tomato puree, then the wine and turn up the heat to simmer for 2 minutes.

4. Add the passata, cinnamon and sugar, then taste and season.

5. Simmer for around 10 minutes, then stir the chocolate in a little at a time.

6. Taste and adjust the seasoning and sugar if required.

7. Reduce the heat and slow simmer until the sauce is nice and thick.

8. Stir in the butter and basil leaves and serve immediately with Tagliatelle pasta.

Lunch at the Fisherman's Haunt, Winkton

You may recall my saying in last week's rundown of the menu's (*gasp*, I haven't done one for this week yet - and it's Thursday tomorrow! Darn you Christmas, you're getting in my way! lol) that we were going for lunch with my parents at the Fisherman's Haunt at Winkton.

Well, in all fairness to what happened there this last weekend, I don't feel it would be right to do a proper review as such, but I'm sure you'd be interested to know what happened.

We (five in all) rolled up at the Pub and all appeared to be peace and tranquillity.  Upon entering the bar, I noticed a particularly surly-looking fellow behind the bar and a large chap who appeared to be in charge, but who also appeared to have lost any sense of customer service and good manners while he was speaking to my Dad.  Not a good start.  However, the large fellow took us to a very pleasant table and took our drink order, albeit looking a trifle distracted throughout.  Little did we know, just what was going on behind the scenes to cause such surliness and distraction!

Our waitress arrived to take our orders and she turned out to be very smiley and pleasant.  We ordered two melon dishes, a red pepper soup, a prawn cocktail and a chicken liver parfait for our starters and two beer battered fish with chips, a roast beef, a roast pork and a confit duck leg for our main course.  Thus began the wait.  So we waited, and chatted, and waited, and chatted, and got a little fidgety, and waited some more.  After a wait of around 45 minutes the starters arrived and were unremarkable but pleasant.

Then, a chap who appeared to be the restaurant manager (or some such) appeared and apologised for the wait, asking whether we'd been told "what was going on there, today?".  "No!", we all chorused, our curiosity having been seriously piqued.  It turned out that their Head Chef had fallen the day before and cracked two ribs and hence was off sick.  Thus, the responsibility for the kitchen had fallen to the second chef - who couldn't cope with the stress and had walked out!  Picture the poor old third chef, who really hadn't bargained for what he got, that day, doing all the prep and cooking for the entire restaurant - which was heaving with people.  Poor soul!

So, it appeared that because of the lack of people doing prep, the vegetables were dwindling and they only had broccoli and brussels sprouts available.  That was fine by us, as we all ate those - and the two that didn't were having Fish & Chips anyway.

With the promise of 20% off the final bill, we resumed our wait whilst feeling terribly sorry for the poor old third chef, who must have been wondering what he'd done to deserve such treatment.

Eventually our main courses arrived.  The battered fish was so huge it looked like it was preparing for a swift getaway, but was declared extremely good by its recipients.  The chips weren't so good, being common-or-garden freezer chips.  However, in the circumstances, who would have complained?  Not us.  The two roast meals - beef and pork - were absolutely enormous and excellent value for money.  The duck leg, however, was a bit of a tragedy.  The skin was suitably crisp and tasty and the best thing about it.  The meat was a little on the dry side, which was quite an achievement considering it was supposed to be a confit duck leg.  It was served with mashed potato and a duchesse potato (which seemed an odd combination, being mashed potato x 2) and with a light but extremely vinegary jus that was probably quite adequate in quantity bearing in mind its acidity, but did nothing to help the mountain of mashed potato go down.  The bowls of vegetables were completely mullered - think school sprouts and broccoli, but again in the circumstances we were just glad to get some food!

The menu set out for the day was the £9.95 for two courses version, when we'd been expecting the Table D'Hote menu, however I feel that the change in menu was probably essential, to save the third chef from abandoning ship, too.

Not one to be put off by horrendous service, we ordered dessert and were suitably impressed.  Well, all except for the "cinnamon ice cream" which most disappointingly, turned out to be vanilla.  A nice vanilla - but vanilla nonetheless.  The profiteroles were cushiony and filled with cream, the "hokey pokey cheesecake" was sweet enough to make your teeth fall out and the Pecan pie was so enormous, it proved impossible to finish.

All in all, the Fisherman's Haunt showed signs of being a very acceptable lunch venue.  It was quite obvious that we caught it on a spectacularly bad day and I would very much like to return and have another go!  Maybe we'll ring beforehand and make sure the kitchen staff are all assembled, this time.

Fresh Pineapple with Mint sugar : simple but lovely!

Pineapple is one of our favourite fruits where making a dessert is concerned.  That and Lemon!

So, when I saw Jamie Oliver producing a dessert which involved fresh pineapple with fresh mint mixed with sugar sprinkled over it, of course I had to have a go.

Wow!  If you've not tried it, put a pineapple on your shopping list right now.


Ingredients :

A fresh pineapple
A small bunch of fresh mint
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Cream, to serve

Method :

1.  Cut the bristly top and the hoary bottom from your pineapple, then sit it on it's freshly cut bottom and go around it cutting the peel off from top to bottom.  You can generally remove the "eyes" as you go, using this method.  Watch out for pips, too.  (Who'd have thought that pineapples had pips!).

2.  Cut your pineapple in half from top to bottom and each piece in half, until you've got four wedges.

3.  Take each wedge and cut off the woody centre section and discard (but don't forget to have a nibble on them before you chuck them away - cook's perks, and all that!).  Then cut each wedge into bite-sized sections.

4.  Remove the mint leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks.  Chop the leaves finely, then add to the sugar and toss to infuse with the mint.

5.  Sprinkle the minty sugar over the pineapple, then cover and leave to chill in the fridge.

6.  Serve with fresh cream.

Greek style three-cheese & bacon filo pie - and Christmas salad

Yes, that is one heck of a title for a pie - but I can't think how I'd describe it otherwise!

It began life as a BBC Good Food recipe for "Ham & Blue Cheese Tart", but has grown and developed since then.  For instance, our preference is for cooked bacon rather than ham and because of son's sensitivity to blue cheese, I include a little cheddar and leave his part of the pie free of the blue.

I'm so glad that Sainsbury's had Springform tins on special offer the other day - and that hubby spotted them and got one!  Without the Springform, this was so much more difficult to produce.  It is achievable - for instance you could use a casserole dish to form the pie in, then carefully remove it and place it on a baking tray to cook.  However, if you've got a Springform, it's definitely my method of choice.

The Christmas Salad was my first go at such a thing.  I thought about what colours say "Christmas" and put together salad items that conformed to that concept.  I would have included beetroot if I'd have had any.  So, we had Little Gem lettuce, cucumber, spring onion, cherry tomatoes, orange segments and pomegranate seeds, all dressed with a lemon and olive oil dressing.  It was lovely with the rich pie and definitely something I'd do again.

I have to admit though, that I completely forgot to include the pine nuts.  Now I've made a version with pine nuts - and now one without - and I must say, that the difference was minimal.  So, if you're watching the pennies - you wouldn't be compromising on flavour if you left them out.

Closeup to illustrate the salad - which was really lovely

Ingredients :

6-10 sheets filo pastry, depending on size
1 & 2 tbsp olive oil
a pack of smoked back bacon, diced
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
300g tub soft cheese, room temperature
2 large handfuls of rocket leaves
50g blue cheese, crumbled (I use Stilton)
20g cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp pine nuts, chopped roughly

Method :

1.  Heat oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4.

2.  In a frying pan, cook the bacon in the one tbsp olive oil until beginning to crisp, then set aside to cool.

2.  Brush each filo sheet with the remaining oil (reserving just a little) and layer into a 20cm springform tin, overlapping each sheet at a different angle, but leaving one sheet separate.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the soft cheese and eggs, then add the spring onions, cheddar cheese, bacon and finally the rocket.  Season with pepper and just a touch of salt.

4.  Pour the egg mixture into the filo case and spread to level.

5.  Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and pine nuts.

6.  Lay the final Filo piece over the top, then fold the sides down to create a crust.  Brush with a little oil and place into the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until just set and the pastry is golden brown.

7.  Cool slightly before serving.

Everyone loves Kedgeree - don't they?

Aaah, Kedgeree.  If ever there was a recipe that puts a smile on everyone's faces, it's that.  We're all very keen on anything that involves curry - and a Kedgeree that doesn't involve curry just isn't a Kedgeree, in my book.  Of course, there is the added bonus of it also involving smoked fish - and as we all love fish and especially smoked fish, then it is a given that we're going to love Kedgeree.

In fact, it is my ambition to one day have Kedgeree for breakfast.  I can't help but think that we'd have to go out tramping across the moors, wearing tweed and muttering about the damned beaters afterwards in order to justify the investment.

I have a very definite preferred type of Kedgeree, too.  I've been making Kedgeree for what amounts to donkey's years now and have changed the recipe quite considerably from the days when I would poach the fish in milk, add turmeric to the rice cooking water and so on.  These days, my recipe is fine tuned and designed to not lose even the tiniest iota of flavour.  Today's Kedgeree is a fairly dry concoction of delicious flavours that guarantees clear plates at the end of the meal.  In fact, I now know the recipe so well that this is the first time I've written it down! 

29 July 2016

I'm still cooking Kedgeree and it's still one of our family's very favourite meals.  I have taken the opportunity to edit the recipe slightly - for the better, I feel.  I haven't changed an awful lot, just slightly altered the order of cooking and added some garam masala, so don't worry, it's still the same yummy Kedgeree and still easy peasy to cook.

KEDGEREE (feeds 3-4)

Ingredients :

2 eggs
Basmati rice : 1 cupful per person, plus half a cupful
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of black pepper
half a tsp ground cinnamon
20-30g salted butter
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
a flat tsp ground coriander
a half a tsp ground turmeric
3 rounded dessertspoons of Korma curry paste
150ml warm water
400g smoked haddock or cod, skinned and cut into sections
half a tsp garam masala
a tablespoonful of fresh coriander, chopped.

Method :

Place a small saucepan of water on to boil.  When boiling, gently add the eggs and boil for some 8-10 minutes, until hard boiled.  Drain and refill the pan with cold water.  Set aside. 

Fill a large saucepan with water, add a little salt and bring to a boil.

Place the rice into a sieve and rinse under hot water until the water runs clear.  Leave in the sieve to drain, in a colander.

In a large frying pan, heat the groundnut oil and add the onion and garlic along with the cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper and fry on a slow heat until the onion is softened and beginning to brown (around 10-15 minutes).  Make sure to not let the garlic burn.

Add the butter and mushrooms and continue to cook until the butter has melted and the mushrooms have softened slightly.

The water for the rice should be boiling by now, so add the drained rice and cook until the rice is cooked through, but don't let it become too soft.  It needs to retain some "bite".  Once cooked, drain and replace into the hot saucepan until required.

To the vegetables, add the curry paste, ground coriander and ground turmeric and cook for some 5 minutes or so, stirring so as not to let it burn.  Add the water and stir through to create a thick sauce.

Reduce the heat under the pan and add the fish and cover while it gently cooks.  If the curry mixture has become a little dry, add a little more water.

Meanwhile, shell the boiled eggs and separate the yolks from the white.  Chop the white finely - I usually mash it with a fork.

Slightly before the fish is entirely cooked through, roughly flake into large pieces.  Add the garam masala, egg white, chopped coriander and drained, hot rice.  Stir everything through with a fork, using as few mixing strokes as possible in order to avoid breaking up the rice.

Serve onto hot plates and sprinkle each serving with the crushed egg yolk.

Printable version

11 December 2010

Getting closer to Christmas!

Some cheese & biscuits that Hubby prepared for me. 
Cute, eh?  :)
The tension is mounting!  Ridiculous, isn't it, when it is just for two days of eating, drinking, being in one another's company, supplying batteries for the kids' new toys and watching rubbish t.v.  I'm trying to retain some perspective, but it is so easy to get swept away when the shops and t.v. (and the internet, to an extent) are plastered with Christmassy messages, all designed to part you from some cash.

I have been trying to assemble a menu for the three days of Christmas and failing miserably, so far.  Hubby and I had an impromptu discussion - just as we were getting into bed - on the subject that resulted in the Ottolenghi Cookbooks coming out and a little bit of research being done, to illustrate my thoughts on the subject.  I now feel as though I've a bit more of a focus as to what I'm doing, but the planning aspect is still getting away from me - as is evidenced by the cook books and notepad out on the bed ... and I'm writing a blog post.  *chuckle*

Speaking of blog posts - I noticed the other day that Rhubarb & Ginger had gone up 20 points on the Wikio scale.  I'm proud of that!  Alright, I'm still only at number 420 - but it's 20 less than I was at!

We went out shopping on Tuesday as normal, only decided to have a scope around our local Tesco, with a view to perhaps shopping there in future (because it's a lot nearer) instead of at our local Asda (which is further away).  We attacked Asda first, so as to get the bulk of the shopping done, and as a damage limitation exercise for Tesco.  You know what it's like when you're in a new shop - everything seems so much more interesting, before you know where you are you've spent a fortune!

We arrived at Poole Asda at around 8.30am, having dropped son at school.  Because our tummies were rumbling and it's never good to shop when you're hungry, we decided to pop into their cafe and have a bacon sandwich and a coffee.  Now bear in mind that we had to have been one of the first customers there that morning - and in light of that I really do think that there was no excuse for the half-cooked bacon, nor the sausage that tasted of cardboard and especially the lukewarm coffees.  Oh, and why in heaven's name do they give you little pats of rock-hard butter to "spread" (one lump or two?) on your soft roll - which destroys it?  *sigh*

As for Tesco at Fleetsbridge, well I think I'm safe in saying we won't be spending much time shopping there.  As a disabled person who has to use one of their electric ride-on buggies, shopping as Christmas approaches becomes an increasing challenge.  However, Tesco's ride-on buggies run silently - which you would think is a bonus.  Right up until you "sneak" up on someone who steps back into you and hurts their foot for the third time in as many minutes.  It gets very, very difficult thereafter.  It would also help if the buggies went when you pressed the "go" button and likewise, stopped when you let it go.  Allowing for two second's drift in either manoeuvre helps, but not when someone stops dead in front of you.  Asda's noisy buggies some into their own there - at least everyone (apart from the very deaf) knows you're there!

Hubby's Prawn & Little Gem Risotto was a success, by the way.  Not quite a triumph, as it lacked a teensy bit of creaminess and would definitely have benefited from more Parmesan, but it was so very nearly there.  The King Prawns we got from Asda were super meaty and juicy and the addition of the Little Gem lettuce may seem odd, but it worked brilliantly.  Because he added it at absolutely the last minute, it wilted but still retained the crunch that made each mouthful so interesting.  The lettuce also gave a freshness to the dish which sat very well beside the prawns.  Can't wait for the second edition!

One last note - I think I may have just marked myself, as son's Mum, as a source of very good grub in his friend's eyes.  *chuckle*  They arrived hungry and in time for lunch, so I made them toasted ham & fried egg sandwiches.  The plates came back polished.  Job done.  *grin*

[Edited to correct grammatical inconsistencies caused by arrival of son & friend]

8 December 2010

This coming week's meals - better late than never.

When I left you last, I believe it was Sunday and we'd just had a lovely Gammon pot roast.

Well, I sort of fell apart over Sunday evening and on into Monday morning, in that the sudden attack of "meh!" that had got me earlier in the week turned into stomach pain and an overwhelming desire to vomit.  Not good.  So not good, in fact, that I didn't go to work on Monday.  Bringing a sickness bug to a Hotel is not a good idea.  As it was, after I'd taken son to school and crawled back into my bed for another hour or so's nap, I took some Milk of Magnesia and almost immediately began to feel better.  After a couple of hours, I could even face a scrambled egg - and so began the climb back to the pathetic level of health that I attempt to maintain.  I'm still not quite right - I couldn't face a curry quite yet - but with some skillful  planning, I'll get there.

So, Monday's lovely prawn risotto that Hubby had planned had to be jettisoned in favour of plain old grilled sausages with vegetables and gravy.  The boys, of course, had waffles and baked beans - but I couldn't face the idea of a greasy waffle.  I opted for a medley of fresh vegetables (leftover bits from the weekend, in fact) which sat a lot more easily in my stomach!

Tuesday is the first day of our new week and, because I was still feeling a tad delicate in the tummy department, I was luckily able to plan accordingly.  So, we had a lovely Macaroni Cheese.  We should have had salad, but again, salad was a bit of a stretch for me so we opted for some garlic bread.

My Macaroni Cheese is made with mature cheddar, onion, streaky bacon, English mustard and cayenne pepper.  Now you would think that the cheese would be too heavy, or the pasta, or the bacon - but no.  Nor is the mustard or the cayenne too much.   On the schedule of "things to eat to make you feel better" - a.k.a. "comfort food" - I think you'll find that Macaroni Cheese (or Spirali Pasta Cheese, as this one was!) is around no. 2, with Shepherd's Pie at no.1.

I did manage to get out to the supermarket on Tuesday, so we are all geared up for this week's meals.

Wednesday (or tonight, as I write this), we had something we haven't been able to have for over a year.  A classic old English Beef Stew, with dumplings.  In the past, stewing beef has always come in as too expensive for us.  However, with the supermarket's special offer help, I picked up some lovely shin of beef.  I made some Parsley dumplings - with fresh Parsley - which were delightful and took the place of potato (you will recall Hubby's strange antipathy towards the humble spud) admirably.

Thursday is the night that the Prawn & Little Gem Risotto makes a comeback - and hooray for it!  I'm really looking forward to trying this - and the wait has made it all the sweeter.

Friday and we're having a blast from the past - Kedgeree.  Now I love kedgeree and it's something I've made for years, perfecting the recipe as I've gone along until we've now got a deliciously dry, spicy confection of smoked haddock, hard boiled eggs, curry and rice.  Personally, I prefer to eat it with a side salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil - but it would seem I'm alone in that!  That's okay, however, because I can soon rustle up a little salad just for me.  Yum!

Saturday needs to be an easy meal that can be eaten whilst watching t.v.  So this Saturday - thanks to Sainsbury's marked down Springform tins - we're having an old favourite which is "Bacon & Blue Cheese Filo Pie" with salad.

We'd stopped having this one for two reasons.  Firstly, my old Springform tin fell apart and secondly, son demonstrated an allergic reaction to blue cheese.  However, this time I'll prepare the pie with a blue cheese free quarter - and have the antihistamine to hand, just in case!  It's a lovely recipe, using layered filo sheets into which you put a mixture of cream cheese, beaten eggs, ham, rocket and pine nuts.  You then sprinkle over some crushed up blue cheese (I usually use Stilton), then fold the filo in to make a crust and bake.  Gorgeous with salad.

Now, Sunday is very exciting.  We're going over to New Milton to see my Parents and they've offered to take us out for lunch at the Fisherman's Haunt in Winkton.  I've had a peek at their menus and everything looks very tempting - so I expect a review will be forthcoming, in due course!

Not one of our Cottage Pies - but it looks nice,
all the same!
Owing again to the supermarket having some very affordable lamb mince, Monday is looking like Shepherd's Pie day.  Lovely!  Hubby is in the kitchen that day - and he makes an amazing Shepherd's Pie.  It will be extra-nice to have a proper Shepherd's pie, rather than the beef version - Cottage Pie.  So, if I'm not fully recovered by Sunday - I certainly will be, by Tuesday morning!  Shepherd's Pie is akin to medicine, in our house!

Lastly - I'd just like to know whether this qualifies me as a real cook.
Circled - just in case you missed it.  :)

I burned my hand on the cooker shelf when I was retrieving the roast potatoes on Sunday.  Yes, I know it's not a BAD burn - but I'm wearing it like a badge, that says "I cook!".  *smile*

6 December 2010

Ham Pot Roast

The Gammon is hiding under the creamed leeks
see the slices, peeping out all pinkly, there?
Sunday, to me, demands something a bit special in the meal department.  There's no real reason why - it's not as though we starve for the remaining six days, so need to stock up for leaner times ahead.  I suspect that it's just a hangover from my upbringing when we would always have a roast on a Sunday, with a special dessert.  When people came round to eat with us, wine was served - and at Christmas, we had the Mother and Father of all roasts, with fruit or tomato juice to drink beforehand, a starter, then the Roast Turkey with all the trimmings, together with three choices of dessert - all followed by sweetmeats such as Turkish Delight, glace fruits, chocolate eclairs and nuts, served with a sweet dessert wine or liqueurs.  I take my hat off to my Mum and my Aunt - and in earlier days, my Nanna - who slaved over hot stoves for days beforehand doing all the baking and then got up before we'd gone to bed to put the Turkey in the oven.

All this, has resulted in it not being Sunday unless there's a roast on the table.

So, this Sunday (and because they're on special offer at the supermarket), we pushed the boat out and got a gammon joint.  Not, regrettably, one of the "real" gammon joints (we're saving up for one for Christmas), but one of the rolled, munched up and stuck back together again, gammon joints.  It may not have been your pukka thing - but it sure tasted good!

Considering I'd had such success with pot roasting chickens, I thought I'd step it up a gear and pot roast the gammon.  I thought that at least, that way, it wouldn't shrink as terribly as they often do when just plain roasted and it would stand a chance of staying succulent and moist.

The recipe was one of my own, gleaned from various recipes I'd read during my research.  I wanted it to be a veggie-based broth it was cooked in, rather than a spice-based broth.  Even though I'm just hopping up and down to use my new Star Anise, I thought I'd stay on the veggie side and see how we got on.

So, as we were having creamed leeks, I used the leek tops and two onions cut into quarters, plus a hoary old carrot that was looking for a home.  All these, combined with the cider, made a glorious stock that was just beyond tasty when made into gravy.

I served the Gammon with the creamed leeks, which were easily made by sweating the sliced leek in butter and, when softened, a large tablespoon of creme fraiche and some Worcestershire Sauce is added.  Mix it all together, add some seasoning and there you have it - creamed leeks.  I'd planned to serve some Chantenais carrots and swede batons, but discovered some Brussels sprouts in the veggie drawer, so they got included too.  With roast potatoes and roast parsnips, together with the ubiquitous Yorkshire Puddings, it was the kind of dinner that Sundays were made for.


Ingredients :

1.5kg gammon ham joint
2 onions, quartered
Any other veg., like leek tops, carrot, celery
300ml dry cider
4 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp ground coriander
3 heaped tsp English mustard powder

Method :

Lay the vegetables into the bottom of a large lidded oven-proof saucepan or casserole.

Nestle the joint into the vegetables and pour over the cider.

“Paint” spoonfuls of the honey/mustard mixture over the joint.

Bring to the boil on the stove top and then place, covered, into a pre-heated oven at 170deg C for 2 to 2½ hours.

When done, remove the meat and put it to rest, covered in foil in a warm place, for around 20 minutes.

Pour the juices from the pan into a smaller saucepan, add cornflour or gravy granules to thicken for gravy.


Honeycomb Mould : a light and delicious dessert mouthful

Not my photograph : borrowed from t'internet
Honeycomb Mould was a long-lost dessert from my childhood.  I can remember my Mum making it to go with our dinner on Sunday.  She would rope me in to help and I can remember doing a lot of stirring and making sure nothing boiled over.

Although I could remember the dessert, I couldn't really remember what it tasted like.  All I knew was that I liked it - I remember that much!

So when I tripped over a recipe for Lemon Honeycomb Mould, of course it had to be done.

Regrettably, I don't have a photograph of the end result.  This is largely because we were all too keen to eat it and I plain old forgot, but also it is because it didn't look terribly pretty as I don't have a jelly mould (yet) in which to put it.  Consequently, it was made in a Pyrex pudding basin - which left something to be desired where the aesthetics were concerned!

The moment I took the first taste, the flavour brought sensory memories rushing back.  All of a sudden, I was 12 again.  I was also surprised at its delicacy and creaminess, considering there is no cream other than that contained in the milk.  The texture is deliciously foamy and light - and we all came back for second helpings.

This is definitely a dessert that will feature in my son's memories of "dinners with Mum & Dad".  :) 

26 July 2015 : Well, time has slipped past without my making another of these gorgeous desserts.  However, my Mum was coming over for dinner at the weekend and I thought it would be nice to give her a little bit of dessert nostalgia.  I even remembered to take a photograph. 

She loved it.  In fact, we all liked it - even my hubby who can be quite sensitive to the textures of food.  He liked the light and airy nature of the dessert and particularly liked the contrast between the fluffy honeycomb part and the more lemony jelly part.  It certainly does stand the test of time, this recipe!


Ingredients :

600 ml full fat milk (I used Jersey milk)
zest of 1 lemon, half thinly pared, half finely grated
4.5 sheets of leaf gelatine
2 eggs, separated
40g caster sugar
2 tbsp runny honey.

Method :

Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the lemon zest.  Heat the milk in the pan on a low heat until it is steaming hot, but not boiling.  Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water, to soften.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks, sugar and honey together in a bowl until pale in colour.

Remove the pared lemon zest from the milk and reheat the milk to boiling point. 

Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time.  Return the mixture to the pan, pick up the gelatine from the water, allow the worst of the water to drip off and add to the custard mix, discarding the water.  Cook the custard over a low heat, stirring continuously, until lightly thickened.

Allow the custard to cool, stirring frequently to prevent a skin forming.  (A good way is to put some cold water into the sink and stand the saucepan in it).

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they stand in stiff peaks, then gently fold them into the custard.

Pour the mixture into a wetted 1 litre mould.  Chill in the fridge overnight until set.

To turn out the honeycomb mould, quickly dip the mould, right up to the rim, in a bowl of hot water.  Place a serving plate on top then invert the mould and the plate together, giving the mould a sharp tap.  Grate a small amount of lemon zest over, to decorate.

Chill until ready to serve.

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