26 January 2012

From Chinese New Year to Chilli - we travel the globe in this week's menu plan!

I certainly didn't put it together with that in mind, but as it turns out, we are very definitely doing some nation-hopping in this week's menu plan.

Hubby is very nearly recovered from his tummy malaise, so the field has opened up again on types of recipe to choose from.  Two meals were already fairly mapped out by the calendar - Chinese New Year and Burns Night.  The rest?  Well, just call us culinary globe trotters.

Apart from Friday's trip to the Golden Arches, every dish has been planned with a very definite eye towards it being low fat.  I think I'm going to have to get better at planning in some low sugar/low GI meals, though.  To be honest, in between my low fat & carbohydrate/anti-inflammatory requirements, hubby's low sugar/low GI and son & heir's high vitamins & minerals/low fat requirements, it's a wonder I can ever think of anything to eat in the first place!  Mind you, chilli-con-water, or coq au H2O, or Ice Pie don't really sound terribly appetising (although the Ice Pie has potential!).

So what did I come up with for this week, then?  Here's how it's looking :

Tues : Broccoli Chicken with rice
Weds : Haggis, clapshot, carrots & green beans
Thurs : Pasta Amatriciana
Fri : Macdonalds
Sat : Chicken in Almond Sauce, rice and green salad
Sun : Slow cooker beef stew
Mon : Chilli con carne with rice.

Yes, I do know that Chinese New Year was on the Monday, not the Tuesday, but our financial situation, shopping days and the menu plan meant that we just had to celebrate it a day late.  Better late than never, that's what I say!

I made Ken Hom's Broccoli Chicken and unfortunately it was more than a little disappointing, which was odd when you consider that we liked it so much the first time.  I have to admit that I stayed fairly close to the original recipe this time, only deviating from it to add some bean sprouts and water chestnuts.

I do think, however, that the biggest problem with it was the Oyster Sauce that I used.  In the past, I'd had a lovely big bottle of some Chinese make of Oyster Sauce, but that had run out so I got the only one available to me when I did the online ordering, which was an own-brand.  Well, I won't be doing that again as it was a pale travesty of the original.

Quite apart from remembering how the dish tasted when I made it the first time, I could tell that this version had got potential - it was just watery-tasting and insubstantial.  Ah well, I'll make sure to get another bottle of the Chinese version of Oyster Sauce when next I'm in that shop!

Burns Night struck last night - and very happy I was about it, too.

A couple of days beforehand, we'd been out and held a great Haggis hunt which had netted us a dinky little Lancashire Haggis, made by Brown Bros Butchers.  Now I recall last year's Haggis - which I liked, but it did have a very strong flavour of clove, which I hate.  It is testament to the flavour of the remainder of the ingredients that I managed to like the Haggis overall.  This Lancashire Haggis, however, was streets apart from that.   With no particularly dominant flavour - other than "Haggis" - it was able to take on that highly seasoned, intensely savoury characteristic that says "Haggis" as soon as you catch a whiff of it.  In texture, the oatmeal component was really quite obvious but I liked that as it gave you something to bite upon.  The most pleasantly surprising part about the Haggis was its creaminess.  Now don't ask me how the Butchers managed to get that creamy flavour in there, but it was completely delicious and I defy anyone (who isn't a teenager, anyway) to dislike it.  Son and heir did eat part of his portion of Haggis, but was far keener on the backup sausages that I'd also prepared.  Hubby agreed with me that the Haggis was very good - the best he'd tried in years - but did say that it "needed whisky".  Ah well, I've got until next year to invest in some.
The Clapshot (mashed potato with swede, chives & butter) was spoiled rather by the swede's resistance to being cooked.  I had put the potatoes and swede together in the same pan and the potatoes were tender long before the swede - which resulted in the potatoes being rather overcooked.  I often find with swede that it either cooks in a trice, or takes for EVER to cook.  I suspect it has something to do with how old the swede is in the first place.  Ours had been hanging around since last week's shopping delivery when Asda left me twice the amount I asked for, so it had had a chance to dry out a little.  I was beginning to consider its use as bulletproofing for official cars, when it finally decided to cook - but not before I'd reduced the size of the pieces considerably.

With lashings of lovely gravy, I thoroughly enjoyed our Burns Night dinner.
Tonight, we're off to Italy for some Pasta Alla Amatriciana.  I was looking for something that didn't involve a side dish of vegetables or the use of rice, when I remembered this one.  Fingers crossed it won't go the same way as the Broccoli Chicken, in that the first go at it was considerably better than the second!

On Friday, son & heir's school has decided to take his year to the Science Museum in London for the day.  Talk about lucky!  Wish I was going!  It's been decades since I went and I can still remember how great it was - so hopefully he'll have a brilliant time.  He loves anything to do with Science or Physics, so I'm sure it'll be right up his street.

Because we are never sure what time the coaches will be getting back from trips like these, we've decided to round of his day with a trip to Macdonalds.  Well, it's on our way home, he'll enjoy it and it saves me cooking.  Can't argue with that.

Hotel Los Berchules - doesn't it look glorious, there?
I'll be able to use Friday as time in which to gird my loins before making Pollo en Salsa de Alemendras - or Chicken in Almond Sauce, to you.  This is a recipe that was recommended to me by the lovely person behind the Twitter name @LosBerchules - which is a Hotel in Spain.

They recommended it following my posting about the Coq au vin and, having had a look at the recipe, it looks just exactly the kind of interesting recipe that always has me curious.

I love almonds and have always got some in the house for healthy snacking purposes, not to mention for baking use.  In this recipe, you fry the almonds with a little bread and then blitz them along with garlic and white wine to form the sauce.  That appeals to me, even though I can't quite envisage how it's going to turn out.

But then, that's part of the magic of cooking - finding out how these flavours can go together and how well they do it!

Not sure about the dumplings, this time.
I've put the Slow Cooker Beef Stew back on the menu for Sunday, so we're back to England where that one's concerned.  I really love a gorgeous, glossy, shin of beef stew with loads of veggies and a gloriously deep flavoured gravy.  It's the ultimate in comfort food and I can think of little nicer than a big bowl of stew, a spoon, a comfy chair and a warm radiator (if not a crackling fire) on a cold night.  It'll also be lovely to not have to be so taken up with that night's dinner all day, as often happens on a Sunday.

We're off to Mexico on Monday, for Chilli con carne - or "Chilli con healthy", as the recipe is billed.
Having read the recipe, it doesn't differ very much at all from our usual chilli recipe's method, it just contains a slightly different spicing than our normal.  So it will be interesting to have a chilli that is flavoured a little differently.

So there we are.

I dare say a few extra bits of cooking will appear throughout the week.  Hubby is still yearning to create a Sourdough starter, although "The Fabulous Baker Boys" on t.v. last night has slightly put him off, as we can't think where the heck we could put the eventual dough to rise for 8-12 hours, that'd be warm all that time!  Unfortunately, we don't have anything useful like an airing cupboard, which would be perfect.

Oh, and a quick word for all of us here in the U.K. - it's the "Big Garden Birdwatch" this weekend, so if you have bird feeders in your garden or just enjoy watching the birds, why not go and download the bird identification checksheet and set aside an hour in which to join in.  I'm crossing my fingers that my little flock of 11 goldfinches turn up on the day!


No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to receive messages from you all, so if you can spare the time, comment away!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...