10 December 2013

Kievs, devilment, soup and salads ... meal planning in reverse!

I thought, because I haven't posted much in the way of anything just lately, that I'd give a quick rundown on what has come out of my kitchen recently.  With both successes and failures - sometimes both at once, depending on everyone's preferences - it makes an interesting mix!

So let's start with one which everyone liked at least one part of - my devilled sausages.  I served these little lovelies (see recipe here) with some home made coleslaw (white cabbage, carrot & onion all sliced finely, mixed with some raisins, Greek yoghurt & mayonnaise), beetroot and a really tasty rice salad.  The rice salad was made with a simple mix of cooked cooled white basmati rice, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sweetcorn, chopped rocket and small cubes of cheddar cheese.  Once a lovely dressing had been added, along with seasoning to taste (I used a Suzanne's fat free dressing of blackberry, cardamom & chilli), the whole thing came together beautifully.  You can guarantee that even with a rice salad disliking teenager at the table, the sausages and coleslaw will go - and some rice salad went along with it, so I call that a success.

Travelling back on the school run one morning, hubby and I both were overcome with a mushroom lust.  Fortunately Sainsbury's is en route, so a quick stop for supplies meant we could have mushrooms on toast for brunch upon our return.  Yum.

Cooked until softened in a little butter, then seasoned with salt and pepper and given a quick splosh with a little mushroom ketchup, these little lovelies were gorgeous on some sourdough bread we had left over.  Toasted and buttered, it was simple and delicious.

Many moons ago, we made the mistake of introducing our son to chicken Kiev.  Not home made chicken Kiev, but the supermarkets' own version of chicken Kiev - one which is made of munched up and stuck back together again chicken, made into a dome with a tiny teaspoonful of garlic butter inside the cavernous waste that is each Kiev's centre.  He loved them then and every so often he requests them again.

Now for all that I have described them with an element of disdain, it is fond disdain as I really quite enjoy a Kiev myself.  It takes me back to when I had the horses and would come in at 9pm starving hungry.  I'd throw a couple of Kiev's in the oven and a packet of savoury rice into the microwave and 20-30 minutes later, sit down to a hot dinner.   I thoroughly enjoyed the Kiev dinner that hubby rustled together, as pictured above.  I know - I should be ashamed of myself and somewhere under the "Mmmmnnn...", I am.  Honest.

Surely everyone likes a jacket potato, don't they?  Even my hubby likes a twice baked Jacket Potato (more on those, in another post!).  In this instance, however, I was suddenly overcome with the desire for mackerel and as I had some salad left over, it made sense to combine the lot for lunch.  The mackerel came out of one of these little tins of mackerel fillets, but I'm fairly sure it still qualifies as being good for you!  In fact, if you totted up the inflammatory -v- non-inflammatory points, just putting the mackerel on the plate cancelled out any non-inflammatory points the remainder might have had!  A scrummy lunch.

So, how do you like the look of my thick chicken and vegetable soup?  It was intended to be chicken and dumpling soup, however like Topsy it kind of grew in the making and it seemed to us that dumplings would be overkill.

I basically emptied the vegetable drawer of the fridge onto the tray upon which I carry ingredients about the kitchen - and only put back things like cucumber and beetroot.  Following a quick rummage in the freezer, which gleaned the sweetcorn and peas, I was good to go.

The chicken was pan fried to a light golden colour, then shredded and finished its cooking in the soup stock.  Done this way, you gain flavour from the caramelisation on the chicken, but retain the softness that is inherent with chicken breast.

I included such lovely winter warmers as pearl barley and red lentils for thickeners and of course used the lovely Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock as the stock base.  Making the soup was a simple matter of chopping the vegetables to a suitably small size and putting them into the pot in the right order, depending on how long each took to cook!  I started off with the classic onion and garlic, followed by the celery, carrot and potato, then the stock, barley and lentils - finishing up with the softer vegetables and herbs.  With some crusty sourdough bread, the soup made a lovely hearty meal and it truly is the kind of soup that you can throw just about anything at.

Lastly - for this instalment, anyway - we have the sad case of the Merguez sausage.  Oh dear, what a tale of uncertainties, changes of mind and mistaken identities.  You see, hubby had a risotto in mind.  It involved lamb and possibly preserved lemon.  At this stage, it was just "in mind", you know - evolving.  I suggested to him that Merguez sausage might be good as the lamb component.  I knew that Asda do 4 or 5 Merguez sausages within the right price range and also knew that they were, to a large part, lamb.  However, what I didn't realise then was that Asda's Merguez sausages were, to a large part, beef.  ~rolls eyes~  I suppose they have to keep the price down somehow and there are cuts of beef that are a lot more economical to use than lamb.  However, being this charitable is with the benefit of hindsight.  That wasn't what I was saying once they were in my fridge and I'd read the ingredients list.

Being such a large part beef, made them useless for hubby's risotto.  So there they were, sitting in the fridge with no job to do.  Not only that, but because we'd never had them before and the ingredients list was unexpected, we had no idea how they tasted to be able to include them in a recipe somewhere.  There was only one thing to be done - cook them and eat them for lunch with a salad.

As it turned out, they were entirely wrong for the risotto hubby had evolving in his head - but would be great for another kind of risotto some other day.  They leach a gorgeous spicily flavoured, coloured oil once heated up - in the same way that chorizo does - and have a hint of lambiness in their flavour, but to be honest, I'd have been hard pressed to have told you what meat they tasted of.  They are certainly spicy - but not in a chilli sort of way.  More of a paprika and cumin sort of way that would make them ideal for all sorts of dishes.  So now we know - and I'm sure one day they'll appear in a more creative concept than beside some salad!

So just to whet your appetite, for my next instalment of meal planning in reverse, we've got some BBQ, more mackerel, that risotto and an awesome roast pork dinner amongst other things.  Can't wait!

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