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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 15, in which I explain

why the only recipe’s I follow are baking ones. I use recipe’s as a guideline not an absolute. Robin can’t do that and it drives him up the wall, this is a bonus. Baking to me is a dark art, I rarely do it and when I do tend to follow the recipe slavishly as I don’t have the 10,000 hours required to be as spontaneous with desserts. I understand that other people may not have the same cavalier attitude (cavalier attitude, not said enough in my opinion), I do towards meal meals iyswim. So I know what I can do with the recipes that I change due to lack or ingredients or whimsy.

Which is why I’m putting the recipe’s up and then telling you what I do, so last night was the Brie thing. The boys don’t like brie sometimes they think it tastes a bit amoniaey (legit word!) and tastes a bit like the smell of wee so I use a packet of normal cream cheese. Robin not so keen on the lemon so a quarter of the lemon zest and about a teaspoon of juice. Mixed the non-pasta ingredients and left to ‘infuse’ for the length of time it took to cook the pasta.

Picture:

It was yum, the boys had a minor revolt. The Cub did NOT like the sauce on his pasta and Robin complained about the amount of lemon – again. I thought it was extremely yum, so yahboo shucks to them.

Tomorrow is soooooooper complicated, but not really, beef in ale pie, from a magazine, I have no idea which one.

For the Beef

  • small handful (grr) dried procini mushrooms (about 10 g/1/2 oz) not essential
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg 2lb 4 oz braising steak (buy this as a whole piece and cut it yourself into large chunks)
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 300 ml/1/2 pt dark ale
  • 2 beef stock cubes mixed with 400 ml/14 fl oz boiling water
  • small bunch each thyme, bay leaf and parsley, tied together
  • 200g/80z smoked bacon, lardons or chopped rashers
  • 200g/8oz chestnut mushrooms, halved

For the pastry

  • 650g/1lb 7oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g/9oz lard or cold butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
  1. Start by braising the beef. If you’re using the porcini, cover them in boiling water for 20 mins, then squeeze out but keep the soaking water. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat half the oil in a large casserole dish, brown the meat really well in batches, then set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan, adding a drizzle more oil, then cook on a low heat for 5 mins until coloured. Add the soaked mushrooms, sizzle for 1 min more, then scatter over the sugar and flour, stirring until the flour turns brown. Tip the meat and any juices back into the pan and give it all a good stir. Pour over the ale, stock and porcini soaking liquid, discarding the last few drops. Season stew, tuck in the herbs and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for about 2 hrs, until the meat is really tender.
  2. While the stew is cooking, heat a drop more oil in a frying pan and sizzle the bacon for 3 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for 4 mins until golden. Remove from the heat and, when the stew is cooked, stir them through. Leave everything to cool completely – better still, make this up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge as the pie will be better if the filling is fridge-cold when added. Can also be frozen for up to 3 months and defrosted when needed.
  3. Make the pastry up to 2 days before you want to assemble the pie. Crumble the flour and lard, or butter, together with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined, then add up to 200ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough. This can be done in a food processor if you want. Knead the pastry, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hr. The pastry can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge or frozen for up to a month.
  4. When you want to make the pie, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and place a flat baking tray in the oven. Heavily grease a 24-28cm pie dish and dust well with flour. Cut a third off the pastry and set aside. Roll out the pastry to a thick-ish round that will easily line the pie dish with an overhang, then line the tin. Add the beef to the dish using a slotted spoon so some gravy is left in the container, as you don’t want too much sauce in the pie. You want the filling to be slightly higher than the rim of the dish. If you have a bit too much, set it aside.
  5. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round big enough to cover the dish. Brush the edges of the pastry in the dish with egg yolk, then cover with the pastry lid. Trim the edges, crimp the pastry, then re-roll your trimmings to make a decoration, if you like – I always decorate my pies with pastry leaves. Brush the top heavily with egg. Make a few little slits in the centre of the pie, place on the hot baking tray, then bake for 40 mins until golden. Leave the pie to rest for 10 mins while you heat up the gravy left in the container. Serve the pie at the table with a jug of gravy and a big pile of something green and leafy.

Old Cub Picture

New Cub Picture

Love, peace 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 4, in which we reveal how Jamie Oliver got us pregnant

This is my Jamie Oliver story, and, although he features heavily he fails to actually appear in person. It is brought on by the JO inspired dish today which is chicken tray bake. Anyway, back to the bit you’re gagging to find out, how did Jamie Oliver get liddle old me preggers? Well, we use to camp at Tregurrian Camping Club site at Watergate Bay which is just outside of Newquay. Mr Oliver has a 15 restaurant at Watergate Bay and we did the taster menu with the taster wine, big mistake, there is a LOT of wine. The meal was ok, I’ve had worse from higher end restaurants but I was expecting much better tbh. At the time the reviews for 15 were very mixed and yes, the service was terrible. So after the meal we climbed back up the hill to our tent and it was raining. There isn’t that much to do in Cornwall when it’s wet, so I ended up pregnant. I was nearly 40, it’s really hard to get pregnant so I thought no problems. I felt The Cub implant the next day and just knew. I WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO GET BLOODY PREGNANT THAT QUICKLY #andbreathe. So yes, Mr Oliver, if you’re reading this, I do blame you, entirely, for getting me pregnant. I, of COURSE, wouldn’t be without The Cub now and love the bones of him, it did take me a while to get my head around it all though. And back to the JO inspired tray bake, here’s the original recipe, which I’m pretty sure I got from the JO magazine:

  • Small ciabatta loaf
  • 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, skin on
  • handful of black olives, stoned (the idea of stoned olives always cracks me up, but I have the humor of a 7 year old)
  • olive oil
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 8 slices of pancetta, or thin-sliced smoked streaky bacon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas4. Get a deep roasting tray big enough to fit all the chicken in one layer. Rip the ciabatta into medium-sized chunks and place in the tray with the chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic cloves and olives. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the chilli. Toss to mix up well, then reposition the chicken on top. Bake in the oven turning the chicken after 30 minutes.
  2. After another 30 minutes, drape the pancetta or bacon on top of the chicken and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and falling of the bone. Lovely with a crisp green salad.

Here’s what I actually did No olives, they are nasty little bags of horror. A dry chilli, but I made the mistake of putting all my dried chilli’s in the same jar, some of which were chipotle and now they all smell/taste a bit smoked. I completely forgot the bacon. You may have noticed from a previous post, I bloody hate it when recipes state a drizzle, what does it mean? So here’s what I did, poured a little oil into the dish which didn’t coat everything, so I did a bit more and a bit more until everything got a little coating of oil. I used de-boned chicken thighs so the cooking time was reduced, also, Robin hates bones in anything as he feels he’s fighting with his food. He isn’t picky honest, it’s just that for some reason all his foibles are coming out in my first few blogs 😀 Here are a couple of pictures of the prep and the finished product, it’s is very yum. The bread goes like gooey, but yummy, croutons.

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Today’s picture of The Cub, have just had a thought I should take a new picture every day as well as drag out an old one so there’s a year of The Cub online!

Old picture

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Today’s picture

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Peace, love and pizza!

PS, can you imagine what the Daily Fail will do with this, I doubt they ever fact check anything and quite obviously, from some of the stuff they’ve ripped off borrowed from Mumsnet never bother to read past the title 😀