FUELLED BY FOOD BLOGS
It occurred to me, as I sat here making a little aide memoir of dishes I wanted to talk about, that very nearly the whole list has been provided by one food blogger or another. I’m not sure that it’s anything to brag about, but it does represent a change in my recipe-gleaning habits!
Firstly, the jewel in the crown of our new dishes this week, has been the singular success of hubby’s Bagel making enterprise. This follows a post by an Anglo/Canadian friend of mine on her blog where she details a successful recipe for Bagels. After a couple of very successful tries, Hubby thinks he has perfected the recipe and we have (rather embarrassingly) been throwing mouldy bread away ever since.
We’ve had bagels with home made jam, cream cheese and smoked salmon, raisin & cinnamon bagels, cream cheese and ham, scrambled eggs, cheese and home made chutney (of more later) and even marmite. They are deliciously chewy, although toasting does reduce the chewiness, but increases the flavour. I doubt we will ever want for something to make a sandwich with, all the time the Bagel Baker is in session!
Secondly, I spotted a recipe for a healthy Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup from a Malaysian blogger friend. After collecting the necessary sweet potato and ginger, I made this for lunch on Saturday. I digressed a little from the original recipe, mostly because I didn’t have garlic oil to hand so fried off a little clove to begin with and, somehow or other, it seemed to make sense to add a small red chilli. For my taste, the end results were simply gorgeous - you felt virtuous as you ate it, but the chilli and ginger added such a multi-levelled warmth and kick, that it was a real riot on your tongue. Hubby opted for burgers that lunchtime, so he missed his opportunity, but Son reviewed it as follows. “A sweet soup to die for! It was mushy, but in a good way – and the chilli makes it soupy buenos!”. LOL So taken with it was he, that he wrote the review down, so that I wouldn’t forget it. *chuckle*
|Photo c/o my inhouse photographer, Chillibob|
It was remarkably easy to do, you began by sweating off a couple of chopped shallots, then you added the plums (500g in this case) which had been stoned and quartered, 100ml of white wine vinegar (I didn’t have white wine, so I used a mixture of 50ml Cider & 50ml Balsamic), 3 tbsp water (which I’d leave out, if I ever made it again), a half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground coriander, a small piece of ginger that had been grated, and 100g dark brown sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then put the pan onto a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins or so, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens slightly. I didn’t go for the sterilised jars option, I just put mine into a lidded dish and now it lives in the fridge. I doubt very much that it will last long enough to go off!
Considering we were economising last week – life gets difficult after the big gurgle of Direct Debits leaves the bank account – I think we did remarkably well for new taste sensations.
However, when it came to what to have for Saturday’s dinner everyone’s hand went up when asked “hands up, who wants Sausage & Mozzarella bake?”. It is such a ridiculously simple dish, this, but it is an evergreen that we simply don’t seem to be getting bored with. The original recipe was one of Jamie Oliver’s “Food for a Fiver” recipe cards produced by Sainsbury’s. However, I felt that the tomato sauce was a bit weak, so have broadened the flavours with the addition of a few extras.
So, what you do is firstly put the sausages into the oven to bake for 25 mins. You want them to be just browned, as they’re going to cook further in the casserole dish.
While they are cooking, put a large pan of salted water on to boil and then cook some 300g of broccoli florets for no longer than 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon (reserving the cooking water for the Penne pasta) and place into the casserole dish. Place the pasta in to cook once the water is back to boiling.
In the meantime, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a high-sided frying pan and sweat off a chopped onion and a chopped chilli, adding a grated clove of garlic and some chopped (or dried) oregano when almost done. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato puree, another tablespoon of tomato ketchup and a splash or two of Worcester sauce. You may need to add 100ml of water, depending on how juicy the tomatoes were. Allow this to simmer gently while the pasta cooks and you chop the part-cooked sausages into four.
Ultimately, combine the sausages, pasta, broccoli and sauce together in the high-sided frying pan, mixing gently to ensure everything is covered with sauce. Decant into the casserole dish, add a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese to the top and bake in the oven at 190deg for around 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
If you’re feeding a number of people, you can include a green salad or garlic bread. However as it’s just us, and none of us need the extra calories, we don’t bother.
Now, apart from the Pork Pie idea, I’m clueless about what to serve on this week’s menu. So, I reckon I’ll have to have a look on some food blogs …. *chuckle*