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!