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Day 19, in which everything goes out of the window for about 7 days

Yes, I’m writing this a week later because of various things that have happened over the last week, I’m going in chronological order and doing 7 posts in a night, go me!

We went to the cinema and decided that cooking and eating are far to much bother. Tonight we had sandwiches and didn’t eat a full one. This, was probably because we went to the cinema to watch Monsters University (The Unnecessary Prequel) and were full of sugar and hot dogs from Ikea. It should have been chicken chasseur. Here is the recipe from Delicious magazine:

  • 8 skinned and boned chicken thighs
  • 4 large fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g (about 3) shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 300g small chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 200g fresh or canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
  1. Open out the chicken thighs and place skinned-side down on a work surface. Sprinkle with half the thyme and some seasoning, roll back into shape and tie at each end with string.
  2. Heat a deep, non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and fry the chicken pieces until golden all over. Set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the oil, shallot and garlic to the pan. Fry for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the purée, cook for 1 minute, add the wine and stock, and bring to the boil. Return the chicken to the pan with the mushrooms, remaining thyme, bay leaves and some seasoning.
  4. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Turn the chicken now and then, cooking until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.

Old cub picture

New Cub picture

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day 12, in which we go off the rails – again

So, I could convince not a soul in the house that garbage soup was a good idea. It sounds vile but what it really is, is a soup that uses up all those left over veggies and any bits of meat that are lurking in the freezer and actually it’s pretty damn good. I like thyme and bay leaves as herbs and serve with either home made bread or a really nice loaf. We have no bakers locally, which is a shame so I do have to go to the supermarket. Here’s tomorrow’s recipe from the BBC Good Food site:

  • 500g Fresh Beef Mince.
  • 400g Dried Spaghetti.
  • 4 Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon, finely diced.
  • 2 Tins of Plum/Chopped Tomatoes.
  • 6 Fresh Cherry Tomatoes.
  • 2 Medium Onions, peeled and finely diced.
  • 2 Sticks of Celery, trimmed and finely diced.
  • 2 Carrots, trimmed and finely diced.
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely diced.
  • 1 Medium Chilli (optional), seeded and finely sliced
  • 75g Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus extra for grating over.
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube.
  • Glass of red wine (optional)
  • Herbs:
  • 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary.
  • Handful of Fresh Basil, plus extra for Garnish.
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano.
  • 1-2 Fresh Bay Leaves.
  • Olive oil.
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper.

Get yourself a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it on a medium heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and gently fry your bacon until golden and crisp, then reduce the heat slightly and add your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Next remove the leaves from the Rosemary sprigs and add them to the pot, discarding the sprigs. Move everything around and fry for around 8-10 minutes until the veg has softened. Next, increase the heat slightly, add the mince and stir until the meat is browned all over. Stir in your tins of plum/chopped tomatoes, (plum tomatoes are best as they contain less water, but either will turn out great!). Add your remaining herbs, tomato puree, stock cube, chilli and if using, the wine. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them in aswell. Give everything a stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the plum tomatoes as you go and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low-medium, put the lid on and leave it blipping away for about an hour and 15 minutes until the flavours develop into a wonderfully rich tomatoey sauce. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch. Just as the sauce is nearly ready, Add the parmesan and season to taste. Meanwhile add salt to a pan of boiling water and cook the spaghetti according the the packet instructions. Once the spaghetti is ready, drain it in a colander and add it to the pan with the sauce. Give it all a good stir, coating the pasta in the lovely tomato sauce. Serve with a little grated parmesan and use the extra basil leaves to make a great little garnish. This is expensive and not what I have planned – I shall be using the slow cooker because it brings out the best in the mince. Mince is usually not taken from the best cuts of meat and benefits from a slow cook. We actually had chicken and beef burgers tonight, not home made due to the horror that is shoe and glasses shopping. I love Robin with all my heart and probably, a bit of a few other peoples. But, I cannot abide glasses shopping with him, every year the ‘requirements’ for what a pair of glasses has to do changes and that means everything that has gone before is out of the window. This year, he has got it into his head that if he wears the ‘wrong style’ of glasses people shout at him more. He rarely, if ever, gets shouted at by anyone, he’s good at this job and sets realistic expectations for the company and the users. I have no bloody idea where he’s got this from – his current glasses look nothing like the ones he says will make people more antagonistic so he has no empirical evidence to back up his claim. Sometimes I despair of him. I thought we’d dropped lucky with one of those companies that send you the frames to try on but even that has turned problematic. The Cub however was a dream, it was such a shame there were no actual shoes in his size!

A picture of burgers:

Old Picture of The Cub

New Picture

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day one or, this is where it gets serious

So, I’ve nearly got a years worth of menu planned – only 59 days left to fill so that’s pretty good, ::pats self on back::

Due to family stuff I’m putting 2 posts up today as I missed yesterdays!

The meal planning is geared towards us, please feel free to take the ideas and adapt them for your own family. Goddess knows I’ve borrowed from many many sources, if I know where something has come from I’ll quote the source or link to it if appropriate.

Every month I’ll post a list of spices/herbs that will be needed for the following month and every Friday I’ll post a shopping list for the next week. I have no intention of continuing this blog after the year is up, but never say never.

I’m not going to limit myself to just food, I’ll post stuff about what I’m doing and the family, there will be some politics, if this isn’t for you I hope you find the blog you are looking for. Nice Star Wars ref there 😀

As we start the year mid week and, because nobody REALLY wants to cook just after Christmas this week is a bit hit and miss food wise.

I’m going to assume you have condiments e.g. ketchup, vegetable oil and olive oil in your houses everything else will get listed, this also helps me whilst shopping because we are doing if-it’s-not-on-the-list-it’s-not-coming-home-shopping this year.

Here is the spice list:

  • Fresh basil – my one extravagance this week
  • Dried red chilli
  • Garam masala – I intend to spend some time this year making a perfect one for us, for now this is shop bought
  • ground coriander
  • fresh ginger
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • ground turmeric

Shopping list

  • Chicken breast – enough for however many your family is, for us that’s about 2 large ones
  • chicken thighs – see above
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • 3 red onions
  • 165ml coconut milk (you can get them in B&M)
  • ground almonds
  • lemon juice
  • small ciabatta loaf or home made loaf if you’re feeling up to it after Xmas
  • Green salady type leaves
  • cherry tomatoes – if they are too expensive I shall be going with normal tomatoes
  • streaky bacon
  • 1 pkt pasta mix – we use the own brand ones from Aldi or Asda, other supermarkets are available
  • 1 jar of Brockwurst sausages from Aldi
  • 1 packet of hot-dog buns

Here is the rest of this weeks meal plan:

  • Wednesday, Curry
  • Thursday, pasta mix
  • Friday, take away
  • Saturday, chicken tray bake
  • Sunday, hot-dogs

No, it isn’t the most healthy start to the year, but it does make it a lovely easy start 😀

Here’s my korma recipe please note I rarely measure this now and the amount of sauce given here should do 6 people without to much trouble:

Enough Chicken breasts to do for your family
1 heaped teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger – freeze your left over ginger and it keeps for AGES
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
150g greek plain yogurt
1 dried red chilli – I have been known to leave this out depending on the heat of the garam masala I’m using, my lot do not like food that is spicy or spikey as The Cub calls it! Or you can use a fresh one, remember the heat is in the white veiny stuff and the seeds, keep or discard as much or as little as your family likes.
2 finely chopped red onions
1tbsp veg oil
1tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
165ml coconut milk – if I’ve got creamed coconut and not milk I’ll use about half the amount of milk
100ml milk
2 heaped tbsps ground almonds
Lemon juice

  1. cut chicken breasts into chunks you would like to eat – I hate when recipes say bite size, bite size for Robin is not bite size for The Cub. Just make sure they are all the same size
  2. Mix the chicken with the ginger, garlic and yogurt. Cover and marinade, if you are organised – I am not – you could do this the night before. I’ve done it with 15 minutes to go and it still tastes good.
  3. Liquidise the onions and red chilli, if you don’t have the equipment to do that, chop them together for a bit. If liquidising add water if you need to, to get a smooth paste.
  4. Heat oil in a pan to a medium heat, don’t you hate that? WTF is a medium heat anyway? I heat my pan on the hob just until the flames get big. Then, add the coriander, black pepper, tumeric and garam masala, stir fry for about a minute. This releases the flavours of your spices. If you’re feeling particularly fruity, you can always use whole spices, dry fry them then grind them and use that. This takes effort though!
  5. Turn up the heat, add the onion and chilli paste or chunks and stir fry until softened, do not allow the onion to brown, or do, I think it tastes horrid if you do though.
  6. Add the chicken and any marinade left to the pan and stir fry for another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the coconut milk and normal milk, stir until completely combined. If you’re using creamed coconut, stir until fully dissolved. Add the almonds. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. NEVER, serve or eat raw chicken. I popped that there to stop me from being sued 😀
  8. Add lemon juice and salt to your own peculiar taste and mix well.

Serve with usual accompaniments e.g. naan breads, rice etc and chutneys.

Use the rest of the yogurt with a couple of teaspoons of dried mint, some lemon juice and voila! Raita.

My foolproof way of doing rice.

Use a half a cup (the measuring kind, not the massive comedy mug you have in your cupboard!) of rice per person. Add double the water. Boil the rice for 5 minutes and then leave with the heat switched off for 15 minutes.

DO NOT LOOK AT THE RICE OR LIFT THE LID DURING THE COOKING PROCESS INCLUDING THE 15 MINUTES!

Drain any excess water off the rice, fluff with a fork and serve.

Do not be scared of cooking rice, it will be lovely.

And here’s a picture of the curry:

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And here’s a picture of The Cub because he’s bloody cute, he’d taken his braces off as he was now a rebel not a farmer. 😀

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Peace, love and Pizza!

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Pizza’s or where have I been for the last week

Fear not dear reader I’m back, last week was half-term and the toll of keeping an energetic, snot filled, 4 year old was heavy. We ate out, a lot, The Cub did really well this half-term so was treated to his favourite place on earth Ikea – do not ask how long we spend in the lighting section, but it’s longer than the toys! Yes, we had meatballs. It’s a toss up with Mr Cub if his favourite food is sausages or meatballs.

I did cook some stuff over the last week. we had home made pizza.

We sometimes have tortilla pizza, which is basically a pizza on a tortilla but this is VERY messy and today I could NOT face Robin (who is a neat freak) getting all antsy at the table because of the mess – don’t ask, he’s hell to live with sometimes!

Here’s the dough recipe from Saint Delia*, How to Cook, it makes 1 25cm (10 inch) base:

  • 175g Strong plain white flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt (Delia’s recipe has 1 tsp but I find this to much)
  • 1 tsp easy-blend yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (Delia uses golden caster sugar but I find no difference tbh)
  • 120ml warm water
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons polenta (cornmeal)

I use a bread maker, I’m not going to apologise 😉 The only time I make bread by hand is when I have The Rage. I have a hormonal issue which is managed, quite effectively, by medication. But, about twice per year, it flares up to monumental proportions and pounding the crap out of dough is an excellent venting mechanism. So, where was I? Oh yes, I bung everything in the bread maker (in the way stated by the manufacturer) and press the dough setting. If you’re making by hand here are the instructions:

  1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a warm bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the warm water and olive oil. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix to a soft dough.
  2. Turn the dough out and knead it for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
  3. Return the ball of dough to the bowl, cover with clingfilm or a clean, damp tea towel, and leave in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size. This should take 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. sprinkle work surface with polenta and roll the dough out, **get creative and pretend you’re in Rome and toss it up in the air and roll it on your hand

Then I shape the base, I am VERY bad at this and it’s always cause for ‘hilarity’ because I try to do it like in Italian restaurants and end up punching a hole in the base. Ha ha, did I mention sarcasm is my life? You might want to note that this dough is a bit wetter than you’re use to don’t be to worried.

Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7, adjust as per manufacturers instructions for a fan oven. On that subject – we have a fan oven – I usually (unless I’m baking) don’t bother preheating and shove whatever it is in at the temp for a normal oven, it usually takes a one or two minutes less or exactly the same time and I haven’t spent money on energy to heat the oven. Warning do not try this at home or do so at your own risk! And back to the plot, after shaping leave somewhere warm for 10 minutes. Cover with your toppings and bake for approx 25 minutes.

Pizza base, I use passata, stripey, natch, with any of the following I feel like:

  • tomato paste
  • chilli flakes
  • mixed herbs
  • garlic
  • basil
  • parmesan cheese (or similar cheaper version). Again I keep this in the freezer and just grate off what I need when I need it, just like the ginger in yesterdays post.
  • Worcestershire sauce (this is pronounced Wuster for our American readers, should I ever get any 😉 )

Any tomato base left over gets popped in the fridge and used in spag bol/lasagne/chilli at some point the next week. If it looks like it won’t get used it gets frozen. Now, some people say freeze things in ice cube trays or bags so you can just use what you need. I have never had the energy or wherewithal to be bothered to do it. I am very lazy! I put it in a bag and shove it in the freezer. I find the sealable bags from Ikea work VERY well. Oh, how I heart Ikea 😀 I digress, again, mix it all together in a bowl. Apply as much as you want, add your toppings and bake. I currently do not have a pizza stone. I’m on a gadget ban – we really don’t have enough room in our kitchen for anymore gadgets and I do so luff my gadgets. So, I just use oiled foil under the pizza to make sure the toppings don’t drop off and end up lurking at the bottom of the oven.

Eat, if you are very odd and have pizza left over eat the next day for breakfast. Pizza, is the gods own food, or, if you’re not inclined towards gods, the perfect food. It’s as good hot as it is cold. It’s not my favourite food, though it does make my top 10 😀 The Cub declared he didn’t want cheese on his pizza, he has these mad ideas sometimes, he’s 4 and will one day take over the world if current behavior is anything to go by. So I hid some cheese under his pepperoni as he only wanted pepperoni on his pizza. Did a salad and some garlic bread and there you go.

We had sausage chips and gravy and a variety of meals that required little to no energy expending on them. Because, after a day with a 4 year old who is use to being entertained by elventybillion other small people there is no energy left.

When asked today what we want for dinner we actually got an answer, result! Well not really, there are many awake hours between now and dinner time so this could all change – it usually does. This time they are getting what they asked for! Boundaries? I gotcha boundaries right here! Said in my very poor Brooklyn accent.

Here’s a picture of The Cub because, no post would be complete without one:

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No picture of the pizza because my phone needed charging and I’d had a day. 😀

I’ve attached the spread sheet I use to scale up the pizza dough, if you have any questions about using it leave me a comment. It’s NOT protected if you change things it will stop working properly. Please remember I use less salt than Delia and if you want to go with her recipe you’ll need to factor that in yourself.

Tonight we are going with gammon steak, potatoes and whatever veg is in the fridge. I’m pretty sure you don’t need a photo of that, but if you insist in the comments I’ll post one later.

pizza conversion chart

Peace, love and pizza!

* I have oft let down Saint Delia, she has never let me down, although, I’m reliably informed her baking recipes can be a bit hit and miss.

**this is me being facetious and not an Delia instruction