Wednesday 29 December 2010

lamb biryani ish!

I got some very nice stewing lamb from the butcher in Waitrose, and so I decided I'd quite like to do something comforting and curryish with it, but rich and tempting after the few days of illness and misery.
I marinated it in yoghurt, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, black pepper & salt, for a few hours.
When the marinating time was up, I finely chopped a large onion, and sliced a coupla cloves of garlic, and shredded up a thumb-tip sized bit of ginger. This usual triumverate of curry base was fried in ghee, in a heavy casserole dish. When they were soft and slightly golden, I added the meat pieces without the marinade, browning it on all sides. Then I did scrape the marinade in also and added a little more salt and cumin and pepper, coarser ground.
Once the meat was nicely browned, I sloshed in a little water, put the lid on and let it simmer on a very low flame. I managed this for an hour, but longer would have been nice, but the meat was tender enough as I'd cut the pieces small. Oh, it's important that there be some bones in the meat or the flavour is not rich enough.
About twenty minutes before we wanted to eat, I added my basmati rice. Then I added a teaspoon of marigold low salt bouillion powder and enough water for it to come to the first joint on my finger when the finger is placed in the pan to gently touch the top of the rice. This is usually just a little more in volume than the rice volume. In this instance I measured 3 measures of rice and 3 and a third measures of water.
This method using the finger joint is foolproof, was taught to me by a half-Sri Lankan friend who was addicted to rice. It is also WAY more comfortable to try if using cold water rather than water straight from the QuickCup or a kettle!
I then brought this to the boil, clamped on the lid, turned it right down, and left it to simmer for 12 or 13 mins. When that timer goes off, I switch off the heat and set the timer for another 5 mins. Only after that second timer do I lift the lid. I gently stir the food, season to taste and serve.
I served this with green beens fried in a karahi with mustard seeds & garlic and a sprinkle of home-made garam masala; and a yoghurt dressing made by dolloping more natural yoghurt into a bowl and stirring in cumin powder and salt and a pinch of sugar (or agave nectar)
Littl'Un loved the rice and yog, and crunched a few beans too.
The whole meal was tempting and fragrant and sour and rich and just what I'd hankered after.

-- I made this! --

Thursday 9 December 2010

emergency makeshift-Masala Zone pics

-- I made this! --

emergency Masala Zone fix!

When I picked up Littl'Un from nursery yesterday she wanted to know where we were going for lunch or dinner. She then asked *really* nicely if we could please go to that restaurant with the yellow chicken in sauce and rice and yoghurt, and puppets on the ceiling, but sadly, it's rather a long way to go to Covent Garden for lunch and be back in time to collect Big'Un!
Well, then I remembered I had a box of leftover roast chicken from Sunday, ready for making chicken and bacon pasta (more on that later) and I can surely spare a little, so I suggested I could try and make her yellow chicken, rice and yoghurt at home? Well, this delighted her, and she was very very keen to get home and see what I could do!

So, I adapted the recipe I use for Gujarati Kadhi: (this will make a small portion)

In a small pan, mix together
2 tbs natural yoghurt
1 tbs gram flour
pinch of turmeric

Add and mix in
6-8 tbs water.
Boil slowly until taste of flour is not "raw", and there's a "soft" texture (you'll know when you see it.)

Now melt some ghee or heat some plain oil and fry:
1 sliced garlic clove
3 or 4 curry leaves
half a tsp mustard seeds if liked
a finely sliced green chilli if liked

When yog mix is cooked enough, add tempered flavourings to it and mix. Add salt to taste.

While this was boiling I made buttery cumin flecked rice, and boondi raita.

She was happy, tho she actually preferred the yoghurt and rice which is a classic meal for kids all across India and Indian descended kids across the world! (I always forget about it as I can't digest yoghurt!)
I served it on a metal thali with a little metal "bati" or bowl too.

Thursday 11 November 2010

keema alu tikki

I have in the past, been seduced by the various war on waste, using up leftovers books and articles around recently. But as I discussed with my wonderful Godmama, we never seem to have the 'right' kind of overlefts. I prefer to cook one pot type dishes, and they are already a meal, so the only thing to do usually is put them in a microwave-safe 'dubba' and reheat.
Well, finally yesterday I had too much mash! The plan had been to make my lamb mince comfort pulao, but I decided instead to use the mash (and 'healthy' mash it was too, with skins left on, we call it dirty mash) so I fried up the frozen lamb mince (I have a free flow bag in there at all times) with some frozen chopped onions, a teaspoon of garam masala and a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of salt. A cupful of frozen peas added some emerald veggie colour. Once that was cooked fully, I tipped it into a bowl with the mash, and mixed it all thoroughly. I then made patties by hand and fried them in the flat bottomed non-stick wok I just cooked the meat in, flipping once, and served them golden, crisp and lusciously savoury. Littl'Un liked a splodge of rich organic ketchup, Big loved them as is, I enjoyed a mouth-tingling garlic Tabasco puddle to dab at.
I couldn't find the recipe I used last time I made kheer, so I improvised a rice pudding with some indian flavours - pinch of saffron, ground cardomom seeds, ground almonds, and an hour later had a rich, creamy, deceptively light-tasting rice pudding. Big'Un loved this, Littl'Un did her shoulder-collapse and announced her hate of such things. Ah well, you can't win them all!

-- I made this! --

Thursday 4 November 2010

2 weeks in one

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself, last week, I managed to pick up a basket of shopping, in Waitrose, in 10 minutes, for under £15, and that was all I needed for this week's food!
Admittedly, it was helped by the fact we'd not eaten much during half term in the end, partly from being too full from planned meals out, partly because some of us were coldy and not eating as much, and also partly because we were away for a coupla days. But there was no top up shopping, so it's a good week!
I'm still working on using the bits in the cupboards, and thanks to an idea from one of you lovelies, I've switched my Abel & Cole box, so I'll get veg one week and fruit the next, and then alternate. This could be fun. And will mean more crumbles. Can only be a good thing!

SeniorGodPapa rustled up a lovely salami pasta for when we got back from our Hally Happowe'en weekend, which we matched with a luscious celeriac remoulade.
Meatless Monday we had a quick and easy bean chilli with wholegrain rice and a lil soured cream.
Tuesday we had sausages and veg planned for the kids and a wan chai ferry kit for us, which was delicious, and used up the chicken I'd bought on offer and stashed in the freezer. There were enough leftovers for Littl'Un to get a lunch and Papa to take some packed-dinner - which is only fair as he cooked it - yay!

On Wednesday I took my time throughout the afternoon and slowly put together a cottage pie with tons of hidden veg, including the rest of the celeriac in the mash. Plenty of gravy for Papa to smother it in, and an apple and pear crumble for pudding. Littl'Un surprisingly loved the crumble and asked for more after lunch today.

Today (Thursday) with just me and the girls, I made quesedillas (apologies to those of you who saw my Facebook status to that effect.)
Tomorrow is Diwali, and we will be having pumpkin curry with either tilapia or chickpeas.

I've planned next week's meals, subject to change:

Saturday: bacon cauliflower cheese with chips
Sunday: wraps or quesedillas or enchilladas...
Monday: channa curry (Chickpeas) & naan
Tuesday: pinwheel sandwiches or hotdogs for the kids for before Brownies and sausages (in freezer already) veg and mash.
Wednesday: Comfort Keema Pulao
Thursday: grilled topped tortillas - lahmacun or skinny pizza styleeee
Friday: rainbow fish (trout) with squds and avacado creme fraiche dressing

Let's see how low I can keep that bill...

Sunday 24 October 2010

succulent thighs (and some rice)

heh heh, got your attention...
These were chicken thighs from Ocado (Waitrose by any other name should taste as sweet...)
and I wanted to bake them with some rice and some veg, and I thought I'd seen a recipe, but of course I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, tho I found some nice alternatives for some other time, so I decided to be safe with the chicken (I have issues with chicken) but have a go anyway...
I fried the thighs til golden in an ovenproof casserole, and when they were decently brown and tasty looking, I took them out and added onions and stock powder to the pan. Then I added some random veg from the fridge - mushrooms, carrots, I seem to recall peeled courgettes, and then when all this was taking on the sheen, I added rice, coated it all, added water (double the volume of water to rice) and brought it to the boil. Bunged it in the oven, 25 mins was enough, and squeezed some lemon juice over. I had meant to add some brocolli at the last minute, but the rice was a bit overcooked, so I just microwaved it separately instead.

Littl'Un loved holding the bone of chicken and ripping meat off. Big'Un daintily picked her way through the meat I'd deboned for her. Amusingly, they BOTH coyly pointed out that they loved the mushrooms cooked that way! They both usually avoid and push around the mushrooms in other dishes...!
A success.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

rainy with a chance of meatballs.

What a bi-polar day! One minute squintingly sunny; the next wind and driving, persisent rain.
So lunch was a sunny sunflower bread with luxury crab pate, but dinner was a hearty, warming meatballs, spaghetti and tomato sauce with hidden courgette.
The taste the difference meatballs were big and solid and tasty, and my sauce used up some tired looking tomatoes and courgettes (I peeled the latter.)
A grate of cheese made this meal just right.
Big'un of course had another bowl, plain pasta. Where does she put it???
-- I sent this from my 3 mobile --

Monday 18 October 2010

plans are best when they can be fluid...

So, delivery not re-deliverable after all, so mad dash out shopping. Quicker to write out my list from the email confirmation on my fone than to boot up laptop & print it. Hairy moment in supermarket when I realised I'd forgotten to bring menu plan, but a quick connection later and I could read this blog to see that I wasn't mad, I didn't need to purchase meat for this week. However the 'pay-it-forward' mind was in play and the 3 meats for a tenner offer actually had things I use, so I grabbed nice chicken breasts (a real luxury these days,) double pack of unsmoked thick cut bacon, and a pack of meatballs (raw). I'll use these latter for dinner tomorrow which would otherwise be a mad dash of Parents' Evening and Brownies.
I managed to get it all, and not too much extra whim-purchasing, and kept the bill down to well under £60, including some sandwiches for lunch that were, frankly, an indulgence.
I had book club this afternoon, so asked a GodPapa to pop some squds in the oven to bake and be ready in time for my return, leaving a moment to open a tin of Basics baked beans and zap them in the microwave. However, he had the oven too low, and the oven shelf too low, and only the tops were cooked; so those got a little zap too, tho sadly this ruins the crispy skin, and doesn't give that damp wooly inner fluff that melds together with a salty rasping of good cheese. Ah well. The kids ate, it was food. I made sweet popcorn as a consolation prize, and hid a chocolate coin each in the bowl as buried treasure. They were content.
I then stupidly spent my post-kiddy-bedtime evening watching catch-up cookery progs on the puter, while GodPapa snoozed on the sofa, & sadly now I'm starving again, but headed for bed. Perhaps the rest of my week will work out this time...

-- I sent this from my 3 mobile --

Sunday 17 October 2010

lunch at Masala Zone

rice, daal, veg curry, potato carry, saffron chicken korma, chutneys and poppadom. Regular thali.

hmm. organised. Might have spoken too soon...

Well, lunch was wonderful, but filling! So we had a sit down cup of tea and crackers, breadsticks and biscuits with grapes to follow at tea time, and that was enough for the kids before bed, and GodPapa and I coped fine with the late supper at the Music Hall evening. Babysitting Godpapa had some leftover fish and chips (fabulous, from Friends.) So the bolognaise remained in the freezer.

Then I completely forgot the shopping being delivered, so no dinner again, no re-delivery til tomorrow. However, we stayed late discussing Important Matters after Mass, so lunch was late anyway, and then we dashed up to a 70th birfday party, and were lucky enough to enjoy goat curry, jollof rice, plantain and mashed yam so fiery none of us could eat more than a few bites!!!

Maybe we'll be back on track tomorrow.

Ah well, at least I discovered a delicious and reasonably priced crab pate in Sainsbury's which was perfect at lunch...

Friday 15 October 2010

menu plan for next week

I'm trying to get my self organised enough to shop online again, it definitely saves money.
I'm lucky enough to be going out to a Music Hall evening on Saturday, which includes food (Shepherd's Pie & Apple Crumble, I'm reliably informed) so I'm gonna take a bolognaise sauce outta the freezer for Big'Un's GodPapa (best babysitter ever)& the kids to have. Nice to have it there and feel so organised!
Sunday is a simple jacket potato, cheese & beans meal, but I'm gonna grate up some celeriac and remolade it... And I think I'll get some extra organic milk & chuck a rice pudn in below the squds.
Meatless Monday is a bean chilli, rice & sour cream.
Tuesday is Parents' Evening and also Brownies, so a fair bit of running about. Will give the kids some organic sausages from freezer, (I buy them in bulk when they are 'whoopsed' in store.) We've a poussin in the freezer we may have with Nigella style 'rostinis' (fried gnocchi) or we may just grab something on the run.
On Wednesday I'm gonna use up some chicken thighs I've got in the freezer, think they were on offer when I got my Ocado delivery. I'm planning on baking them in a bed of stock flavoured rice. With some veggie served up alongside.
Girlie Thursday is gonna be fun with home made pizza dough, and individual pizzas! I'm gonna prep some toppings and let them make their own, possibly on a theme of monster faces...
And finally our Friday Fish will be the humble tuna pasta. Something comforting for the last day before half term holiday, when, according to experience, people are tired and need the comfort of the familiar & soothing.
So there we have it, will let u know how it goes, and recipes where relevant.
Oh and the online shopping came to under £50 - including the delivery, and including a 5kg bag of rice on offer for a fiver. Shopping, as always, includes staples, and household stuff too... This week is cooked mainly from stashed meat from freezer, which means I can stock up on meat offers next shopping week.

Thursday 14 October 2010

fishmonger's lunch treat

by the time we pick up Littl'Un from nursery, Godpapa doesn't have very long to grab lunch before he leaves for work when he's on the late shift. This means we usually heat up some leftovers, or make toast, but if I remember I get my act together and do something nice for the 2 of us.  Yesterday he brought some lightly smoked salmon fillets and a few scallops home, as both were on offer. So with only a few minutes to spare, I laid the fillets into a microwave container and snipped a couple of spring onions over. Then I grated a little ginger root on, and sprinkled over some soy, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Zapped it for 4 minutes.

Next up I fried the scallops v simply in a dab of butter, and when they were out, I acidulated it with a twist of lemon juice and poured that over them on the serving plate.

In lieu of rice or noodles, we just had some nice buttered whole wheat bread on the side. Bit low on veg, but it was quick, tasty, cheap and interesting, which is a definite plus for lunch!

Thursday 7 October 2010

Bengali Spiced Squash (with or without paneer)

So, I'm really not a fan of the various squashes. I'm very bored of roasted squash, and soups, and I'm not keen on them in risotto, and then I found this, added paneer for protein and voila, squash even Godpapa will eat with pleasure. It's adapted from an Anjum Anand recipe.

Peel and deseed your squash - I think we had 2 little Harliequin squash. Cut into chunks.

This takes longer than most of the rest of the cooking.

If using paneer, cube a pack and shllow fry in oil til mostly browned/crisp on most sides.

Add half a teaspoon fenugreek seeds, or a teaspoon Bengali "panch phoron" (5 spice, but NOT Chinese one)

Add half teaspoon turmeric powder , half a teaspoon of coriander powder and a pinch of chilli powder if liked. Add half a teaspoon of salt, or to taste. Cooking the spices will take less than a minute.

Now add your cubes of squash and 150ml hot water (hello Quick Cup!) and stir well.

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 10-13 mins.

Uncover and add 1 tsp caster sugar and if you only used fenugreek earlier, then add a teaspoon of well pounded fennel seeds now too. Grind some black pepper on, and sprinkle on half a teaspoon of dried mango powder.

Cook a few mins more uncovered until it is dry and squash is slightly raggedy looking.

Serve with naan.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

keema pulao

-- I sent this from my 3 mobile --

Comfort Keema Pulao

I've been chastised by the sis-I-wish-I-had that I've never posted a recipe for one of my favourite most-loved meals! I have adapted a Nigel Slater pilaf recipe and added stuff to make it a meal rather than an accompaniement.  Apologies if I have posted it, I couldn't find it, but it's something the kids adore (both had seconds) and is so easy, tasty and cheap.

I always keep a big bag of frozen lamb mince in the bottom drawer of the freezer.  A 1.5kg bag from Sainsbury's lasts 3-4 meals at least.  I usually have a bag of frozen chopped onion, a luxury,  but welcome if I'm in a REAL hurry.

So using a pan with a decent lid, I fry the chopped onion (a medium one, or a handful of the frozen ready-chopped) in about an ounce of butter. Once soft and golden, (about 4 or 5 mins) I add a bit of cinnamon or cassia bark, about 6 cracked cardomom pods and 2 bay leaves. These leaves really make a difference, so please don't leave them out. Occasionally I also add a teaspoon of cumin seeds. Today, I forgot. After a minute of stirring in the butter, these release a lovely fragrance. At this point Mr Slater and I part company as I add some lamb mince, (peas and sweetcorn too. The sweetcorn is not utterly necessary, but Littl'Un prefers it to peas, so it's a compromise.) Once mince is browned I add the veg, then the rice - a generous cup, about 225g.  Coat it well, then add stock powder, you all know what I use, and then about 300ml hot water. (You all know where I get that from too!)  Bring to the boil, cover, lower the flame and allow to cook for 15 minutes. It should boil hard enough to give little puffs but not rattle the lid.  Now this is important: when the timer goes off after 15 minutes, SWITCH OFF THE HEAT, BUT DO NOT LIFT THE LID FOR ANOTHER 5 MINS.  Set the timer again, lay the table, THEN lift the lid.  Inhale. Aaaahhh. It smells divine, but in reality needs a little salt, stir well, serve.
Littl'Un likes to stir dollops of creamy organic yoghurt in, I like a mouth-puckering mango pickle. BigUn just has it as is, but lots.
Try it. You'll be glad you did!

Monday 21 June 2010

use-up lemon cheesecake

We had a tub of organic creamcheese which had been shoved against the back of the 'fridge which made it freeze solid and go all granular. Nothing wrong with it, but the texture wasn't right ('rangy-dangy' as Big'Un used to say when something was weird and not as usual) but I didn't want to just bin it when it was perfectly good to eat, so I decided to cook with it...
I scooped it into a bowl with another tub full and beat them together. Then I added 4 rounded tsps of cornflour, 1 egg, about a quarter of a cup of golden caster sugar & a few drops of lemon oil. Beat it all til gloppy & then poured it into a 1.5 ltr dish which I'd prepared with a crushed digestive & melted butter base.
I then dolloped tsps of basics lemon curd on top. The whole thing was then baked in a moderate oven for about half an hour/35 minutes til set, brown and firm to touch.
Eat with care as lemon is still really lava-like.
Maybe a drizzle of organic cream could help..

Saturday 12 June 2010

Calzone and almost everlasting ragu sauce

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a BIG pack of nice quality mince in Sainsbury's and cooked it all up - bulking it further with grated courgettes, green lentils and the usual mirepoire of carrots, celery, onions, as well as 2 tetrapaks of basics chopped tomatoes. A little red wine, some ubiquitous Marigold, a little cocoa, and a lot of simmering later and I had a BIG pot of succulent, savoury, comforting ragu sauce. Immediately portioned half off and stashed it in the freezer.
So with the portion we didn't freeze, well, the kids love spag bol, so we had that for dinner and lunch the next day too, and GodPapa took some to work with rice for a quick lunch. There was a very small portion left, so I made a batch of pizza dough in the bread machine, divided it into 4, rolled them out into vaguely even circles, smooshed a couple of teaspoons onto half the circle, sprinkled a lil grated cheese on top and then folded it closed and pinched up the edges.  Baked as for pizza, and served with salad this was a HIT. SO much so that Litl'Un made a special request that I make this for dinner when Daddy next comes to visit.
So, this week, I took out the freezer portion, and used half in some Discovery Taco Trays, which were a HUGE hit, and used the other half of ragu to make 6 calzone today, as kids' Dad came to visit. It was still a hit, and Big'Un ate as much as the grown-ups. 

As a side note, I want to add that for both the Taco Trays and today's calzone, Big'Un made a yoghurt dressing from a recipe she learned at the Real Food Festival last year, and it was YUM. 
about 4 dessert spoons of yoghurt,
one teaspoon mint sauce
one teaspoon wine vinegar
salt and pepper

dippy egg heaven


Wednesday 9 June 2010

something from nothing quick lunch

This'll prolly take longer to write about than it did to make, and I'm not a slow typist!
I cooked a portion of spaghetti, when done I drained, returned to dry pan with a lil butter, tipped in a small tin of mackerel fillets in oil and a good handful organic rocket from our box delivery. Didn't have any cream or even yoghurt so a squeeze of lemon and a grind of black pepper and YUM!

Thursday 15 April 2010

melty melty oxtail

a very kind butcher put an extra half kilo of oxtail in the bag, so we stewed mega mega piles of oxtail slowwwwly in the oven, and it was super super yum. Using my grandmother's recipe from her sweetly handwritten recipe book (needs rebinding, donations towards this gratefully received!) I trimmed and seared the chunks of meat, then removed them (I always place them on the lid of the dish, so I don't lose any of the juices) and then put chunkily cut leeks, carrots and celery in the hot pan, with a few black peppercorns and a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs of my beloved garden rosemary.  Once those were taking some colour, I browned a couple of tablespoons of flour in with them, put the meat back in and then poured in a glug of wine, and some good beef stock. Brought it all to the boil with a little added seasoning and popped it in the oven mark 4, for an hour, and then lowered to mark 2 for a further 2 hours.
Right at the end, I always pour in some frozen green beans and sweetcorn, and then serve with rice.
I also always dig in and eat with my fingers and Littl'Un LOVES gnawing on the bones...

Wednesday 7 April 2010

using coupons

so Sainsburys sent me 2 coupons for £16 off an £80 shop, week one was up til 10th April, week 2 was up til 17th April. I usually shop on a Saturday, and the efficiency of the post meant I had an extra Saturday (3rd) so I decided to try to do a fortnight shop at a time, and use the coupons without breaking budget. Clever eh?
Ok, so it was a bit of a challenge to think up 2 weeks' meals in one go, and Big'Un is on Easter Hols, and I'd said I wanted to do a bit of a use up, and I was also worried I'd either not be able to fit all the meat in the freezer, or I'd not spend enough to use the coupon.  So I decided I could use the freezer at my mum's empty flat if I needed to, and I'd add on the Easter pressies I needed for some extra buffering.  And then Godpapa needed a few extra pressies, so we added what he needed to my trolley (and he paid me back of course!) and I did it!

So (slightly belatedly) we have 2 weeks of menu plans.

Saturday 3rd April - creamy chicken with celeriac monster mash (peas cooked in with the squds etc and mashed in)
Sunday 4th April - Easter lamb, see previous post.

Monday 5th April - quinoa veg pilaff/overlefts

Tuesday 6th April - gammon steaks & slow cooked butery leeks (organic sausages for the kids)

Wednesday 7th April - sausages and baked beans (see previous post)

Thursday 8th April - bacon noodle pots.

Friday 9th April - fish fingers for kids, prawn pilau for us

Saturday 10th April - tinned pies (they were on offer a couple of weeks ago in Asda, so we stocked up) + veg and chips/wedges

Sunday 11th April - slow cooked meat, perhaps oxtail

Monday 12th April - Bengali channa daal with fresh coconut + luchi (like puris, but made with white flour and a little milk)

Tuesday 13th April - spicy almond chicken. (like satay but with almonds not peanuts!)

Wednesday 14th April - macaroni mince bake with green lentils and grated courgettes

Thursday 15th April - oven baked risotto

Friday 16th April - coconut & tamarind fish curry & rice.

So I managed to get almost all I need and it all fit in my freezer, just need Godpapa number 2 to pick up some nice oxtail at the butcher next door to him for the weekend. Quite pleased with myself. And so far, we didn't do the quinoa, so I've still got that in hand for a future menu plan.  So far, it's all working well, no one's going hungry, and everything is going down well.
We went away to Hatfield Forest on Tuesday (6th) so we took sandwiches for lunch, and the few left over were toasted for lunch today. The gorgeous seeded bread I made has lasted well, very filling so thin slices needed for sandwiches, the kids love it, and it's tasty for grownups who are often not keen on brown bread either. 
The only blip has been that I forgot that Big'Un was due to spend a couple of days with her Dad so I slightly overplanned the food for 2 dinners, and it was very weird sitting to have dinner with just Litl'Un, but Godpapa 2 came home just as we were finishing, so sat and ate too. Well, beans and sos for lunch tomorrow too I guess! LOL.  Let's see if we can keep this blog rolling, comments welcome, any recipes required can be provided on request!

nursery dinner today

Take a pack of cooked cocktail sausages and place some into a small casserole dish. Branston Baked Beans are 4 for £1 in Morrisons, so open 2 tins & pour into casserole dish. Squirt in some brown sauce if desired, mix then pop in oven - say 20 mins @ gas 6/200deg - and serve. Classy.

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Easter Lamb

I wanted to do something a little bit different for the special guests I was expecting for Easter lunch, and Sainsbury's had a half price offer on lamb joints, so I went ahead and got a nice leg and then searched out a recipe that gave me the basis for what I already knew I wanted to do.
I found this and tweaked it to give the flavours I was aiming for, so I used cumin instead of saffron, and a little cinnamon too.  I served it up with a pilaff with raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon, and a salad with grated carrot and kohlrabi, and liberally bejeweled with fresh sour pomegranate seeds.  The meat was so tender i shredded it with 2 spoons, and there was plenty to go round, and leftovers too.

My lovely "sister" brought some scrumptious profiteroles (white choc to accommodate Big'Un's choc issues) which we enjoyed for pudding. It was a feast.

Saturday 27 March 2010

choc honey comb pudding

* 200g Belgian milk chocolate
* 2 x 35g bars Crunchie bars, roughly chopped
* 284ml pot double cream
* 250ml tub mascarpone

* Melt 150g of the chocolate, then stir in the Crunchie pieces. Gently stir the cream into the mascarpone then stir in the chocolate mix until just marbled.
* Spoon into small glasses or cups and top with the rest of the chocolate, grated or shaved.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

online shopping

So, this week I wanted to do an online shop, but I could only dredge it up as far as £20 and hell if I was gonna pay £6 to get that delivered, so I abandoned it.  Of course, when we went to the supermarket, I managed to spend £55, and Godpapa bought lunch in the cafe for Litl'Un! Oh well.  Still, £55 is not bad, and there was some paying it forward in there.

I'm gonna try and do a week of meals from what is in the house, and what I can pick up at our new local Sainsbury's, probably in the holidays when we don't have all the rushing around for Brownies and so on. I'm struck by how many cans and jars and dried goods we have crowding the little kitchen.

Yesterday I put together a pretty lovely pudding from almost nothing and bits that might have been binned otherwise.  Aunty brought a box of (out of season, so not that amazing) strawberries for the kids, and they had one or 2 and got bored due to lack of flavour.  They started going bruisy and a few went moldy, so I composted the icky ones and then Bamixed up the others with some previously Bamixed sugar (instant, cheap icing sugar) Then I cut slices of a cheap madeira cake and put them in a dish, sprinkled over some of my gifted Todka (toffee vodka) and then poured over the strawberry liquid.  Next I used the Quick Cup (and a 30 second blast in the microwave) to make a 7p sachet of instant custard, and poured that on top.
By the time we'd eaten dinner, this was beautifully set and trifley.  I contemplated whipping up a tub of mascarpone with a dribble of cream and dollopping that on top, but I couldn't be bothered as I wanted to get eating of supper so I could go out later.  (Best band in the world, McGoozer)

Today we had my favourite oven baked risotto, which both kids ate amazingly, and Litl'Un finished in record time with no whining or fussing, and fed herself the whole bowl.  She then proceeded to guzzle lots of bits of salad, primarily celery, a Yeo's tube and a brioche... No wonder she couldn't finish the cup of milk she then asked for! The risotto is easy, and hands off, and comes highly recommended.

Fry a chopped pack of bacon til crisp, add a chopped onion and an ounce of butter.  When soft, tip in 300g/10oz risotto rice, and coat.  Pour in half a glass of white wine, and cook for 2 mins til absorbed.  Add 150g/5 oz halved cherry tomatoes.  Now add 700ml of chicken stock, stir briefly and pop in an oven at 200 degrees for 18 mins.  Stir thru an ounce and a half of parmesan or strong cheddar, and then sprinkle with another half ounce of the same, or mozzarella to finish. I recommend a good grinding of fresh black pepper to lift and add a buzz at the table. Oh and make sure you start off with  pan or dish that is hob AND oven safe, with a good lid.  Enjoy...

Wednesday 3 March 2010

trying to stay in budget

is sometimes harder than it might first seem.  A couple of weeks ago, I did a fortnight's shop, online, and it came to under £45!  Of course I was relying on food I had in the freezer that I'd bought when it was reduced at the time, or on special offer.  The trick to this is to only do this when it won't put you over budget the week you are buying, otherwise it's not saving your money, unless you have to live month to month, and the beginning of the month is more flush than later in the month, so having some bargains in the freezer can really save your bacon (!) on that last week or few days in the pay month.

Last week I had another delivered order, and I was happy that Sainsbury's seems to be getting better, I actually got the meat I ordered which was lamb chops on offer at half price!  We had those on St David's Day with a pile of buttery slowly cooked down leeks, and some spuds and sweetcorn too.  I just didn't have to energy to make Welsh cakes after all, but read this and have a go if you fancy a try... They're yummy any time, not just on St David's Day...

Yesterday I had the mad rush of Brownies night, as well as our Lent movie group later on, so I rustled together a couple of Anjum Anand recipes, which I utterly recommend - a thoroughly creamy and succulent tasting but healthy version of shahi paneer, and a crisp and peppery hot cabbage salad. Eaten with a few hot breadmaker naans, and what more could one ask?

Our weekend potroast chicken served us well, though no one had the energy to pie-ify it!

Tonight we're having tinned sardines on toast, but it's homemade oat bread, and tomorrow I'm using some butcher's cocktail sausages which were reduced and then stashed in my freezer, in beans and sausages.  Friday will be jacket squds with tuna mayo and brocolli.

Oh and we've just had a new Sainsbury's open near our tube station. It's tiny and cute but pretty well stocked.  Got my organic starter yoghurt, forgot to check they sell organic milk, will be gutted if they don't, but I did notice they don't sell bread flour.  It was mad crowded, but then it only opened today, I can't imagine it'll always be that mad.  I was amused they had staff asking all shoppers if they have Nectar cards when they entered the shop, and the woman asking me couldn't actually remember the word Nectar!!!

Friday 5 February 2010

comforting leftovers lunch

Having got home from the park a little later than usual, I needed to put something together quickly that would be filling and nutritious. I found small pots of squds & celeriac mash, slow cooked buttery leeks and steamed salsify. I decided to heat the mash & leeks together but not in a frying pan, just directly in a microwavable bowl, and when that was hot, I made a little crater in the mix and cracked an egg in! Back in the microwave for about 50 seconds, and I had a perfectly "baked" egg in colcannon-ish stuff. Very soothing, filling, quick, easy & cheap!

-- I sent this from my 3 mobile --

Wednesday 3 February 2010

sumptuous unctuous pork and sinful use of leftover sweet things

I took advantage of Sainsburys' 3 for £10 offer on packs of various types of meat a couple of weeks ago, and stashed some in the freezer for another week, to pay myself forward, because it also helps me menu plan if I have things in store to use already, as well as saving money. I just have to make sure I don't go over-budget when buying multi-buys otherwise it doesn't really save money, just push the budget from one week into another. It would be helpful to keep things like that in the freezer for a week when I might need to spend my money on something else, and so have less for food shopping, though.

Anyway, yesterday I took out some lovely pork steaks and cut them up into about eighths, and then fried them off in some dripping, then removed them and added chopped fennel, carrots, apples and leeks. Once those were taking on some colour, I chucked the pork back in, added some wine mush from the freezer, nearly froze my fingertips off in the process forgetting that pure alcohol liquid at the bottom of the bag will be a LOT colder than the iced up wine, and then left the whole lot to simmer for a couple of hours while I gently re-warmed my fingers.

Just when we were nearly ready to eat - when Big'Un was being put to bed - we boiled some scrubbed peeled
salsify, then I microwaved a couple of artichokes which had arrived fresh in our organic box delivery, and I stirred up a buttery pot of polenta to go with it.

I also seared up some stunning scallops and then crisped up a couple of shredded slices of thin salami in the same pan, with some lemon juice and tarragon stirred in.  So we had 2 starters (scallops etc, and artichokes and melted butter) and a very, very filling main.

The whole combo of our main course was utterly gorgeous; the gravy of the pork was thick and oozily unctuous, and the sweetness of it was beautifully offset by the slight grainy salty creaminess of the polenta. I loved the texture and flavour of the salsify, just lightly buttered and lemoned.  I definitely got my veggies in and loved every second.  Oh and the dog DOES like artichoke...

Now, if that was not enough, I decided to throw together a pudding I'd had in mind for a few days.  I'd baked a choc cake from a packet mix, and about a third of the cake was sitting around, mildly stale, but not very, presumably because of some chemical in the mix, so I crumbled it into the bottom of a bowl.  I then sliced on a peeled pear that was a bit too soft for the kids to agree to eating but was perfectly fine.  I then added some Clipper Organic Hot Choc powder and some Green & Blacks cocoa to a basics pack of instant custard powder mix, then made it up as per the instructions, tho slightly less water than it said, so it was slightly thicker than usual, and then I dollopped that onto the cake & pear.  Finally I had a bag of plain choc Lebkuchen from Lidl, left over from Christmas, well, there were a few crushed up hearts left in the bag, and I crumbled those on the top.  I have to say, this is probably one of the best puddings I've ever made and it went down a treat.  But not one to repeat too often, but what a WONDERFUL use of bits that I would certainly have thrown away otherwise.  Usually after having them sit around in my kitchen for a few weeks with the thought that I "might do something with them".  Frugal indeed, if perhaps not the healthiest food.  However, not like I do a pudding every day, and cheaper than buying something or making something from scratch with new, specially bought ingredients.

Thursday 21 January 2010

this week - how's it going?

so far this week, we've fared a lot better.
On Saturday we had saucy spare ribs, and I must admit the sauce was from a Good Food recipe, and was truly scrumptious. However, due to an oversight, I ended up pressure cooking the ribs, and tho they were tender, I think they could have been better with the original marinade overnight cook slowly in oven procedure. I had planned the meal with Litl'Un in mind as she loves eating meat off a bone more than little cut up neat pieces of meat on a plate, but her dad had taken the girls to visit an Aunty, got stuck in traffic and got home late for dinner, as well as Litl'Un falling asleep in the car cos she'd tried to skip her nap. Moral of the story, if she misses her nap, no car journeys before dinner! She did eventually get stuck in to the meal, but I don't think she enjoyed it as much as she could have done.

On Sunday we FINALLY had the Weisskohl Gemuese! Basically a white cabbage is shredded up. Half is placed at the base of a stockpot, and half a cup of water is added. Then a pound of pork mince is mixed with an egg, a finely chopped onion and a presoaked Broetchen (German bread roll) or 2 soaked slices of white bread, heel ends if possible. This is then all mixed together with what would seem a LOT of salt and ground black pepper. It's then put on top of the cabbage, patted down, and the other half of the cabbage layered on top with another half cup of water poured over. Bring this to the boil, and simmer til the cabbage on top is done, about an hour, and then mix up and re-season. It does take what seems like a lot of salt, cos the cabbage blands it out, but the lots of black pepper makes it a wonderfully warming winter broth/stew.

On Monday we had spaghetti "lentilese" - a ragu using red lentils instead of meat, which both kids and grown-ups loved. I served it with a celeriac "remoulade" basically grated celeriac with a mayo/white vinegar dressing. Crunchy and yum.

Tuesday, the GodPapa cooked, tho I gave the kids some meatballs and potato wedges that were left over from the Sunday bits and pieces lunch, because of our Brownie having to be in place at 5.15. GodPapa had a beef stew underway, trying to follow the Sainsbury's/Jamie Oliver/Feed your family for a fiver recipe printed off the website, but to be honest, it was NOT really easy to follow as a beginner, yet I wouldn't expect anyone but a novice to want a fully written out recipe for something like this, maybe just a recipe card with the ingredients and a rough plan. But they'd fleshed out a recipe for the website, but it left out important timings, and information, just saying "when done" and "meanwhile" and so on. It was fine, but he didn't know to make the pan hot to sear the meat to give it a good flavour, and it wasn't thickened cos we didn't use the dumplings bit of the recipe as we were running out of time. It was pretty bland, so he asked me to flavour it up, and basically it was rather uninspiring a recipe to give someone. The end result was tasty although there was WAY too much, and we had to take some over to other GodPapa for his dinner or we'd drown in the stuff. Of course, I had planned to have leftovers today, when I'm now alone with the kids all evening on Thursdays, so that's handy in that respect. I'm adding a swede/celeriac/squd mash.

I've already blogged the fragrant and delicious chicken patties, and on Friday, if the Other GodPapa is feeling up to it, we may have a fish pie... (can't recall if he knows this yet, I'll know soon when he reads this...)

My evening today shall consist of baking, I'm hoping to bake a birthday gift for a faraway friend with a special cutter I bought online. I'm just hoping it'll travel ok! Also something for playgroup, obviously, maybe mini choc chip cookies... (I have some mini choc chips!)

thai style chicken bites

So, posting from my phone to see how it goes...
Last night I made some delicious little chicken patties/tikkis/cakes (think fishcake rather than cheesecake.) I had a pack of basics chicken breast which I chucked into the bowl of my Braun stick blender mini-processor. I added a teaspoon of a fierce Thai red curry paste, very authentic, from the oriental section or supermarket. Then a glug each of lime juice, fish sauce & soy sauce, snipped in a couple of spring onions and a teaspoon of brown sugar. I then blitzed that together til it was a paste, and fried it in patties made of a flattened tablespoon's worth of stuff.

Whisked together a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce with half a teaspoon of sugar, a dash of lime and a dash of soy.

I served this up with some rice noodles, but they weren't that great, even tho I dressed them with a little sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. We also had some salads left over, so finished them up along side this meal.

Saturday 16 January 2010

kinda disastrous shopping!

well, I had a bug, and didn't do the shopping properly. I did some at one shop, then intended to get the rest at Sainsbury's, but i was too sick to go myself, so the Godfathers went for me.
But I was also too sick to write the list properly, and at least 2 of the main ingredients needed for meals in the week didn't get purchsed, so my week's plan went slightly to the wall...

You'll have to wait another week to find out what that weird sounding German dish is! I'll say it involves pork mince, which we forgot to buy...

We did get the lamb, and that really was so very delish, I slow oven cooked it, with bunch of veg, in wine and tomatoes, and it was spoonable!

The cauliflower was pitifully small, so I dumped a tin of haricot beans in with it. This would have been fine, and really quite delicious, had we not been keeping dairy intake low for Big'Un, and if the alternative in the fridge had been soya rather than Rice Dream... It didn't thicken up properly, so was weirdly watery. But the meal tasted way greater than my apprehensions. Unfortunately, Littl'Un wouldn't eat it at all, and sat with it in her mouth for 20mins before we gave up. She was, in her defence, tired and teething, but it was very upsetting for all.

I was still not well, and was quite relieve GodPapa was cooking, but sadly, he repeated his previous mistake with the fishfingers and the oil was too hot, and the whole meal and house stank of overhot grease, and I just couldn't eat the beans and sausages. Partly my illness, but partly it really was too greasy tasting. Sadly, he simply couldn't smell OR taste it.

The oven baked risotto was marvellous as usual, and everyone loved it, both kids had big helpings. A great result!

Guess what, the chicken for Thursday? Forgot to put it on the list. The kids had their jacket spuds, I had a toasted sandwich. Well I did til Littl'Un decided to swap plates with me. She got toast & salami, I got spud skin.

And finally today. Got home from an errand, and then discovered we had an empty mayo jar in the fridge, and no backup in the larder. Well, long live my Bamix, and long live Aunty Wendy and her gift of 15 eggs which I can't fit in my fridge so are sitting at room temp. Whipped up a 10 second whole-egg mayo and used it to make our tuna pasta. This was very very yum, except for the fact that I haven't yet deciphered how to cook one portion, rather than 4 portions...
Ah well, leftovers for Godpapa...
Roll on Ribs Saturday...

Thursday 14 January 2010

baking night

well now, it's Thursday evening, I have a big box of eggs Wendy gave me, it's playgroup tomorrow, it's Ez's birthday today, I'm at a loose end because Jay is at work til 10, so what's the answer... let's do some baking!
I made the custard powder fairy cakes, but didn't bother icing them this time as it's SO much easier to carry them un-iced, and do our kids REALLY need more sugar... Might take the icing sugar with me and do them there, the cold in the kitchen will set the icing, probably before I can ice them! I got custard powder on my face, and all over my phone, so perhaps I shouldn't try to blog while baking, or use the timer on my phone while cooking messy stuff...
I slightly overfilled the first tray of cakes, so I didn't get the proposed number of cakes, but as I'm not icing them, it doesn't matter so much.

Next up was a batch of cookies. I've always had a No Sugar/No Salt muesli for my brekkie, and I HATE the powdery stuff at the bottom of the box, but I also hate throwing it away! So I poured it and the oaty crumbs from another cereal box (Littl'Un's favourite, raspberry yoghurt crunch) into the cookie mix where the recipe called for ordinary oats, and away I went.
It all mixed to a nice stiff dough, even though the kitchen was hot by this point. Then I got rolling. Why is it I never have a walnut to hand to compare for size? So I rolled out the dough into little balls that seemed the right size to me, spaced them well apart and popped them in the oven. Then the same with the rest of the dough, apart from the oven bit, only I didn't have nearly as much left, so I'd definitely made the first balls too big.
Right, now, time to clear up, except I realised GodPapa is in the shower, so I can't use the taps. But I'll need to put my oven gloves on soon, and my hands are utterly sticky and cookie dough covered. Oh dear, what a shame, it would appear I now have to suck and lick all that yummy dough off my fingers nice and thoroughly. Heh heh, great fun. Probably could have made some money on a pay per view if I'd video'd it...
Luckily he's out of the shower before the timer goes off, and I can hygienically remove the cookies from the oven.
Oh and they are SO good just warm from the oven, before they crisp up as they cool.
So cakes and cookies boxed up for playgroup tomorrow, and no more wasting of cereal box powder.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Menu Plan Sat 9th Jan 2010 - Mon 18th Jan 2010

In case you are new to the blog, or don't remember my rules:
Mondays are vegetarian, Fridays are fish. I try to do another veggie or fish or low meat day one other day of the week. I try to vary the carbs, and I'm now cooking for 2 children who eat proper meals, and aren't fussy as such, but have very definite preferences. And they are very DIFFERENT preferences! I base my plan around what's on offer as well as what veg I get in my Abel & Cole organic veg box. I do try and fit couple of puddings/cookies/cakes in a week.

Sat: Weisskohl Gemuese - you'll just have to wait and find out!

Sun: slow cooked lamb

Mon: Cauliflower Cheese, veggie pasta

Tues: GODPAPA will be making - beans and sausages with jacket squds.

Weds: oven baked risotto with bacon and cherry tomatoes

Thurs: sweet and spicy chicken burgers in lettuce, or with noodles

Fri: tuna pasta & salad

Sat 16th: ribs and corn cobs

Sun: undecided, probably large meat slow cooked

Mon: spaghetti lentilese

Puds I might try are Beetroot cake from the Woman and Home Feel Good Food Mag Christmas special, and maye a steamed syrup pudding. Sure I saw another recipe I wanted to try, oh maybe some snowflake cookies to go with our snow, and my lovely cookie cutters...

Watch this space for the daily details...

Wednesday 6 January 2010

winter comfort Bengali khichdi

When we came back in from the snowy walk with the dog today, I knew I needed something warm and carb-filled and comforting but quick for lunch, so I decided on yellow Bengali khichdi.
Khichdi is a mix of rice and lentils, and the English Kedgeree is said to derive from the dish.
I fried 3 quartered small potatoes (unpeeled), 1 quartered onion, 3 slices of ginger, a cup of rice, a handful of moong daal (lentils), half a teaspoon of turmeric, and some salt - in a pressure cooker.
Then I added 2 and a half cups of Quick Cup water, and covered, brought to the pressure, and cooked for 15 minutes.
Serve with a fried egg. Eat the white first, and when you get to the yolk, smash it into the last few spoonsful of rice, and sssssssavourrrrrrr!

Monday 4 January 2010


I think I've got it! I made round, soft, pliable, buttery chapatis! Well, Big'Un still complained there wasn't enough butter, but she'd complain the butter didn't have enough butter...
I tried Anjum Anand's suggestion to leave the dough to rest for half an hour in a WARM place, covered. Most other books and things have said in fridge. I honestly don't know how my mum does it, I know she DOES keep made up "atta" (she calls the flour and the made up dough both "atta") in the fridge, but not sure if she lets it warm back up to to room temperature or not... Must ask her. Why do I only ever think of these things when she's halfway across the globe! Mind you, I do tend to cook Indian food more when she IS away for the winter. Partly, it's good warminig winter comfort food; partly, it's that I miss my mum, and Indian food reconnects me to her...
So I also found that the skwish and twist method helps. That is, once you roll the ball of dough, dust it in more atta, then before rolling out, use the palm of your hand to press down and twist - clockwise seems best. Then when you roll it out, the disk rotates and this eases the circularity.
It also eases the puffing up which is pretty essential too.
So the "tools" I use are - a chapati thali - wide flat bowl for making chapatis, given to me by my Sindhi grandmother when I got married.
Satilon Futura "tawa" - amazing stuff. Non-stick to the extreme. I scrub it with wire wool after the blokes don't wash it properly after I've made parathas and it comes up a dream, no scratches.
wooden rolling podium. - bought online for a few quid at - fab store
thin Indian style rolling pin. Really seems to help the auto-rotating.
Weird mesh thing for puffing it on the flame.
I'm sure they all help a little, the rest is practice, and my family seems happy for me to practice!