11 September 2012

Back in the comfort zone - this week's menu plan

For all that I'm always very glad to get into salad weather, I will admit to finding it difficult to ring sufficient changes where salad is concerned.  We do tend to get pretty darned bored with it.  I've tried warm salads, fruity salads, green salads, mayonnaise salads (such as pasta or potato), but it seems as though when the weather starts to take a turn for the autumnal I breathe a sigh of relief as I start thinking casserole and stew.

Autumn always has been my favourite time of year.  When I still had the horses, I loved those mornings when the sun came up across the dew-laden field and the horses, still bare-backed and rugless but just starting to grow their thick winter coat, would leave trails as they brushed through the grass on their way in to breakfast.  The spiders webs would be jewelled with dew and everything smelled freshly washed.  Such a relief from the baked and parched dustiness of the mid-summer field.

Just this morning, son & heir commented on a spider's web that we passed on the way to school.  On any other morning you would never notice it, but the sun had caught its threads and turned them silver and there it was, in all its complex and fragile beauty.

Sounds a bit like me, "complex and fragile" - especially in the morning.

So Autumn is ordinarily a time of bounty.  A time when the plants and trees are putting out their best seeds and fruits.  However, I wonder how much damage has been done by the weird summer we had, as I've already noticed a Blue Tit checking out our seed feeder on several occasions.  I'd have thought that, ordinarily, there'd be plenty of natural feed for the likes of him - but perhaps not, if he's already looking to augment his diet.  Perhaps a hint of food shortages to come for all of us!

Anyway, for this week's menus, I've taken a large step away from the salads and into more robust - but hopefully still fairly healthy (on the whole) - foods.  Here's what's on the list :

Tues : Smoked Haddock Chowder and crusty rolls
Weds : Chipotle meatballs in tomato sauce, with pasta
Thurs : Steak pie with broccoli, parsnips & carrots
Fri : Pulled pork rolls with BBQ sauce and curly fries
Sat : Minced Beef Wellington with savoy cabbage, turnip and carrots
Sun : Slow cooker beef cobbler, with roast parsnips, broad beans, savoy cabbage and celeriac
Mon : Sausage casserole, with mashed potato and peas.

I doubt that there's anything on that list that would stop the culinary world in its tracks (is there ever?), but its all food that we'll enjoy eating and I have no doubts about.

Tonight's Smoked Haddock Chowder is a family favourite that we haven't had since the winter.  I've refined the recipe a little over the years, to make it suitable for hubby's dislike of potato (I used Canellini beans instead) and dislike of thin soups (I make sure it is considerably thicker than most Chowders appear to be, from their pictures).  The soup is now a perfect candidate for a main course soup, as by the time you've eaten an entire bowlful you definitely are warm from the inside out - and certainly aren't hungry any more!

Tomorrow's Chipotle meatballs and pasta are an opportunity to use some of the Sainsbury's Speciality Ingredients' chipotle paste.  Son & heir loves his meatballs in tomato sauce and we haven't had those for ages, so he'll be happy and I'll get to try out the chipotle paste.  Seems like a done deal, to me!

Me, by the time I get home  :)
Thursday's Steak Pie will be a shop-bought pie, as there is every possibility that we'll be taking a drive to Southampton to visit the Apple Store there (think computers, not fruit).  We'll need something that doesn't involve lots of cooking processes after that sort of drive.  It's not a difficult drive, but I certainly know I've done it by the end of it!

I'm looking forward to Friday's Pulled pork rolls, as I've seen so many recipes go by for pulled pork and they have - to a man - made my mouth water.  I just need to find a roll that is robust enough to cope with the pork without dissolving.  I'll be serving them with some of Mic's Chilli's El Loco BBQ sauce and have a yen for some apple sauce, too.  Of course there'll be curly fries served alongside, it just wouldn't be right without them!

Om nom nom!  No wonder we like it!
There's another blast from the past scheduled for Saturday - Jamie Oliver's Minced Beef Wellington.  I've made this on a couple of occasions and it always went down very well with the family throng.  It's a good hearty meal that contains lots of "hidden" veggies - not to mention the veggies that I'll be serving alongside - and is a good excuse for some more gravy made with Knorr's extra beefy stock pots.

There's another excuse for rich beefy gravy on Sunday, too!  Yay!  I remembered a recipe that I'd seen in Clarissa Dickson-Wright's "Potty" (a cook book of one-pot dishes) for a Beef Cobbler made with ale and walnuts.  I'll be cooking the beef in the slow cooker, only adding the cobbler scones for the last couple of hours - so it should be absolutely gorgeous.  We'll have roast parsnips, savoy cabbage and celeriac with it - and some broad beans if I think it needs them.  The cobbler will have lovely slow cooked carrots in it, so it's very definitely a good autumnal warmer.

Next one up on the schedule is a good old Sausage casserole, which is just perfect for soaking up all the little bits of leftover vegetables and clearing your fridge out.  Being on Monday, if we're a bit light on bits of leftover vegetables, a quick stop at the supermarket will soon furnish us with a few to bolster the numbers.  I don't think that there is a definitive "Sausage Casserole" recipe, it seems to me to be a "brown the sausages, cook onion, add in chunks of whatever you like, add gravy, cook in oven until tender" job.  Add to the plate some lovely fluffy white mashed potato and a few peas and the job's done.  Perfect!

I should open a "British Comfort Food" restaurant.  I bet it'd do well as there has to be more than just me out there who loves this type of food!

Now, a couple of little points of interest for you - or I hope they'll be points of interest for you!  Firstly, Jenny Eatwell's Rhubarb & Ginger has just passed its second birthday!  It happened on the 22nd August, while I was busy thinking about other things.  So happy belated birthday, blog - here's to many more!

Secondly, another bit of good news is that I looked on the Alldishes rankings this morning, to see whether things had improved since getting back in the blogging saddle after my illness - and we're up to number 10!  Yay!  So thank you all for sticking with me while I was being extremely slow in updating - here's to next year, when hopefully I won't be struck down by some nasty August virus!


  1. happy blogaversary! That spiders web is amazing. I am so looking forward to spring and the salads I can eat - but only because we are still in the middle of winter at night time, and it has been this way since April :)

    1. Oh, thank you Tandy! It's lovely isn't it? I was thinking, as I was writing this post, that there had to be people reading along who were looking forward to spring. Is it unusually long in coming, or do you normally have long winters there?

  2. Happy blogbirthday lovely meals here to be proud of, thinking about that chowder especially as a starter before the cobbler has warmed me up!

    1. Marcus, honest to god, if you had some of my chowder as a starter - you wouldn't get much of the cobbler eaten! lol I made the chowder tonight and made it slightly differently - actually quite a lot differently - so I'll be blogging the changes as it sped the whole process up quite a bit. :)

  3. Congrats on your blog's anniversary! Mine too has just had its second but I forgot to mention it! Your food looks fantastic - esp that first dish mmmmmm. And thanks for introducing me to All Dishes Rankings - well done for being part of it!!

    1. Thanks! :) Belated congratulations to you, too.


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