7 September 2012

It's never too late for a menu plan!

Over the last few weeks, I have slipped out of the practice of declaring what our menu plan is - and this has been annoying me.

I feel that, if I were a regular reader of my blog, I'd enjoy the menu plan posts as it would give me a hint of what was to come (much like the "preview" pages in magazines).  I'd then make a mental note (and like as not immediately forget it, knowing me, but I'd try) to remember to come back and look at recipe X or Y when it appeared.

I've also been pondering on giving Rhubarb & Ginger a bit of a spruce-up, so don't be surprised if you detect a few changes in the look of the blog in the coming weeks.  Nothing major, just a bit of a spring-clean.  Yes, I know it's autumn - I was hoping you wouldn't notice that.

Anyway, it's rather belated, but here's our menu plan from last Tuesday for the week :

Tue : Pizza
Wed : Chicken & courgette porcini pasta
Thur : Fish pie, carrots, peas and green beans
Fri : Harissa lamb flatbreads with hummus & salad
Sat : Leek & ricotta tart with salad
Sun : Slow cooker braised beef, mashed potato, parsnips, broad beans & broccoli
Mon : Bacon & celeriac gratin with peas, sweetcorn & broccoli.

My step-daughter and step-son (hubby's children from his first marriage) came down to see us from their home in Kent on Tuesday.  It was marvellous to see them, as we haven't been able to get together in way too long.  The distance has been prohibitive - that and the cost of train fares and my inability to drive long distances.  A friend was coming down for the day and they hitched a ride along with them in the car, which was just fab.

We didn't know how long they were going to be here for - or what we'd wind up doing - so opted for the easiest dinner possible for that night - pizza.  It all worked out perfectly (other than being over far too quickly) and not having to worry about cooking was just the job.

The following day, I had planned to try out one of the Sainsbury's "Speciality Ingredients" range - the Porcini Mushroom Paste.  I had a plan to use it along with some chicken and courgettes in a pasta dish.  However, when I went to open the jar and have a preliminary sniff (which I find can establish which way I want to go with the rest of the ingredients), the jar opened with no resistance (which isn't normal) and the contents looked exactly like someone had taken half a teaspoonful out of the jar.  After much debate, we all opted to regrettably chuck it in the bin (everyone denying having wielded the teaspoon) and I was left with no ingredients for the mushroom sauce.

However, I decided to treat it rather like a Masterchef box challenge - as in "here are your ingredients, now go make something edible".  You'll just have to wait for the blog post (which would indicate that the end result was really rather good) to find out what I did.

Last night was the first time since God was a boy, that I have made Fish Pie.  In fact, I can't remember having made one before - although hubby swears blind that I've had a couple of false starts at it in the past.  Now I do accept that it is possible that this is true, as owing to my brain having melted (I had a stroke) some four or five years ago now, there are a number of years where the details are a bit fluffy in my memory.

So far as I was concerned, however, this was the first Fish Pie I'd tackled.  Fish Pie has always been unachievable in the past because of the price of fish.  However, our local supermarket has brought out a bag of fish pieces (cod, smoked haddock and salmon) for a reasonable price.  I added the contents of a bag of "cheap as chips" small prawns to it and hey presto!, we had enough for a fish pie.

Again, you'll have to wait for the blog post for this one, as it was a resounding success!

Son & heir's "tower of power"
Son & heir reluctantly went back to school today - I know!  On a Friday!  Hardly seems worth it - and we are basking in the silence.  Not that he made that much noise - it was the things around him that did all the noise making.  It seems odd to not hear huge explosions going off in his bedroom (gaming - not my cooking - what are you like?) and I almost miss the sound of his electric guitars as he works out the latest tune.  You'll note the "almost" - not having to yell at him to turn the bass amp down is the best bit about his being back at school.

Tonight's dinner is a bit of a departure from my "usual" fare (if I have a "usual" fare).  Having seen flatbreads being made on the t.v. on two occasions this week, I had the idea for tonight's meal.  The plan is to fry off some lamb mince in another of the Sainsbury's "Speciality Ingredients" range - this time the Harissa paste.  Having spread some hummus onto a flatbread, then added some rocket leaves on top, the spicy lamb mince gets added on board and the whole lot doubled over, for easy conveyance - and much falling out sideways, probably easier to eat with a knife and fork - to the gaping maw.  I'll be adding some marinated beetroot and cherry tomatoes, along with a cucumber/yoghurt/mint thingy alongside.  I really like the concept - it remains to be seen whether it works in practice!

Saturday and Sunday are likely to be quite hot (weatherwise) so I've scheduled a tart with salad for Saturday.  It's a Sylvana Franco recipe for her Leek, ricotta & gruyere tart, but owing to the price of Gruyere these days, I'll be substituting Maasdam for it.  Either way, it'll be cheesy and leeky - can't ask for more than that!

Something along these lines ...
I'll be making use of the slow cooker again on Sunday.  It's great for potentially hot days that might turn rainy - as there's no sitting over a hot cooker if the weather is nice and you wind up with something warm and comforting if the weather is horrid.  So you win either way.

The braised beef will be Silverside, done in red wine and a selection of other bits and pieces that haven't quite cohesively formed up in my head yet.  I expect there'll be whole shallots, mushrooms and a yummy Knorr Rich Beef stock pot - which are so gorgeous I'm always tempted to eat them with a spoon.  This is another one I'm looking forward to.

I'm not sure what Monday's weather will be like, but I've scheduled in a Bacon & Celeriac Gratin which should be good.  Well, it's bacony, cheesy, celery-y (you know what I mean!) with a dash of potato, all held together with onions and a thick cheese sauce.  Just writing about it is making my mouth water ....

Not my garden, but can you imagine - eating comfort food whilst sitting in the garden?  Oh yes!
I've not got any additional makes or bakes planned - although we do have a complete glut of rhubarb in the garden and I know I have the ingredients for some Cherry chocolate brownies in the cupboard - and a new brownie pan needing a try-out.  We'll see!



  1. Hurrah! I for one always love reading your menu plan posts and have missed them recently. This is delicious sounding as always.


    1. ~claps hands together~ It's nice to be appreciated! :) Thanks, Seren!

  2. Delightful! Enjoyed the menus and the clever patter. Good work all round!

    1. "clever patter" made me chuckle. :) Thanks!


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