Tuesday 28 February 2017

Its been a while..

Sooo... long time no see! Not that I've forgotten you ..but life.. got busy!! Christmas was busy...then a new job (which I love but now spend all day with a computer so blogging took a back seat!) and a new home all of our own! Made complete by this little psycho kitty and sous chef in training Theodora:

After 5 years of renting *very basic work accommodation* with a very questionable electric oven, I am now a proud owner of a range style cooker, with 3 ovens!! Where to choose?! Where to start?! I still have to use the instruction manual for the main oven but I am slowly learning the symbols (normally by the smell of burning!!) 

Having our own space is amazing and being able to cook without sharing my kitchen (other than the cat!) is a joy!! No waiting to get in the kitchen, being able to fill the window sill with herbs, and peace! Its so quiet here, I love the Hampshire countryside and everyone is friendly! Even the shop assistants are helpful and talk to you, which was a little disturbing at first but its so lovely!

I think I will be back blogging...soon...though am still unpacking and rearranging the kitchen weekly trying to find homes and muttering under my breath the words 'kitchen clear out' regularly!! For now we are just enjoying having a home to call our own, a whole new county to explore and hopefully I will be back soon!

Friday 2 December 2016

Sundried Tomato and Herby Roast Chicken

A few weeks back, stopping to get fuel on the way home, the shop had a decent chicken reduced to about £1.30, I was doubtful as to whether the freezer had space but I picked it up anyway, along with one for my mum which I dropped off at hers and then somehow crammed it in the freezer when I got home. Can always room for a bargain! Roll on a few weeks, I rescued it from its icy lair and then spent ages deliberating over what to flavour it with! Whilst rummagaing through the fridge, I stumbled across several jars of sundried tomatoes..I swear they were breeding in there.. anyway I also saw the lemon juice and the mind started scheming... and a few hours later we tucked into a Sunday night feast!

A roast dinner is quite a rare treat at home, and quite a feat too. When it came to serving up I quickly remembered why a roast dinner is indeed a rare treat, as working with a dodgy oven with a questionable internal thermometer (that the housing peeps assure me is correctly working) and a small space certainly makes cooking fun! However this chicken dinner turned out great, the marinade complemented the chicken perfectly, without overpowering the meat and it also made for very tasty leftovers! For me the best thing about a roast is enjoying all the leftovers for a few days but with less washing up!!

One new gadget that certainly helps when you have a temperamental oven is having a kitchen thermometer, I had a rather ancient manual one that's a bit questionable too but I recently was sent a great little thermometer from Salter, which is battery powered and reads the temperature super fast. Another bonus vs my older one is that the probe is thinner, so less stabby marks in the food too!

In my kit there was also a great set of scales - I love the fact that it covers both metric and imperial - as whilst I'd not long replaced an old set, admittedly with a cheapy version, upon making an old favourite recipe I found it didn't have the older imperial measurements and ended up frantically googling to convert the figures mid baking! The surface is fully smooth and flat and wipes clean beautifully even after a sundried tomato oil bath, no easy feat! The scales are thin too which helps on storage and slides between the chopping boards in my kitchen easily! There is also a handy little magnetic backed timer in the set - I already have a couple of timers but for when doing big meals its always good to have a spare, for example important things such as timing the pudding! Its a great little set and an ideal gift for any budding chef this Christmas.

Whilst space is restricted in my kitchen, my mind never is when it comes to cooking up new experiments and its something I always retreat to and take pleasure in - a few weeks back I received such a lovely complement that really touched my heart - after someone had seen where I cook and it was how on earth do I make such beautiful food here. Okay, I'll be honest not everything gets shown on here or instagram etc, and my photography is very amateur but for me its all about the taste, and until summer comes back around my photos will be reliant on the kitchen lighting!

Whilst trying to decide whether to keep the roasts accompaniments traditional or mixing it up, I went a little over the top as on the cooking day I also picked up a reduced bag of diced swede (so much easier than wrestling the beasts!) and that got turned into lava of buttery mashed swede, then also a tray of roast potatoes, buttered greens and roasted butternut squash. For two people. I do forget how many I am feeding some days...!

A Few hours including marinading, actual hands on time about 10 minutes

1 large chicken
25g sundried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped + 1  tbsp oil from the jar
2 heaped tsp Herbs de provence
10 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp white ground pepper
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Sauce/ gravy:
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
200 ml leftover vegetable cooking water

You will ideally need a roasting bag for the chicken, if not use foil to lightly wrap the chicken

Start by mixing up the oils, tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice and pepper, add a little salt too if desired to make a thick paste.

Place the chicken in a bowl, stab lightly and rub thoroughly with the prepared mixture, place in a roasting bag and leave for a few hours to bathe, or preferably overnight. Transfer the bag into a roasting pan.

Pre-heat oven and then cook as per timing for the weight - some chickens will have a handy cooking time on the packaging. mine was 1.6kg, If it doesn't, then I go by 20 minutes per 450g (Lb) and an extra 20 minutes. Once cooked through, allow to stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, heat the veggie cooking water, blend the bouillon powder with the cornflour, and slacken with a little water to make a paste, as the water comes to the boil, whisk the paste in and cook until thickened.  Open up the roasting bag and stir in a few spoonfuls of the juices to the gravy.

Carve and then feast!

Disclaimer: The Salter Kitchen set was a gift. I received no payment or was obliged to provide a review of the product. All photographs are the property of Anne's Kitchen

Monday 28 November 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Tonight I am posting the meal plan, in the vain hope mostly of sticking to it! I woke up Saturday full of cold and its now progressed to today where I've lost my voice and rather amusingly on a phone call at work, they commented that they felt like the should be paying for the call, which made my husky voice even worse by laughing so hard it left me a little speechless! Am soooo annoyed at yet another bug! In the space of two months I've already had a bout of Sinusitis and a cold, so frankly waking up with this has left me pondering what can I do to boost my immune system?!

Sometimes I can't help but wonder if its a result of when I was restricting my diet during the FODMAP trial a few months back, I did the first part quite a while due to holidays and things going on, plus I had a fair amount of stress going on - some good and some bad! Don't get me wrong it really did help when I stuck religiously to it but most re-introductions left me a bit confused even with the support of my lovely dietitian! Nowadays I have figured out a few of my triggers and either avoid them or try to avoid mixing too many FODMAP's together. Right now though my sore throat is craving Honey and nothing else will substitute!!

Meal planning has been a bit hit and miss the past few months. My job has been through a peak of the project and I've quite often been exhausted to even make what we had planned and we often had a takeaway! Also I am trying to run down the cupboards, which doesn't always mean much excitement! Sardine noodles anyone?! Though I do have a very good reason for running down the cupboards - as we are finally going to be getting a home all of our own in the New Year!! Its something I thought at one point would never happen but finally the stars have aligned and now we are just waiting for the date! I can't honestly wait to have my own kitchen again after 5 years of sharing!!

So this week, depending on germ status:

Smoked salmon fillets and orzo with sauteed green beans and courgettes 
Leftover ragu risotto 
Garlic sausage fusilli 
Smoked mackerel frittata, potato wedges 
Sweet chilli pork stir fry with noodles 

Have a great week!

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Smoked Mackerel and veggie packed Buckwheat-otto

Soooo.. its been a while! I had completely lost my blogging mojo and over the past year I've really been questioning in general how much I share and how much time I spend online. Tweeting this, Instagramming that, posting various things on Facebook and updating on other groups meant there was not enough time leftover just for me and so I decided enough is enough, no more blogging and a real cut back of being online. So I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. And its lovely to do nothing. The last year or so has frankly been far too stressful (though there were some good things too) and it was taking a toll on my health and so I took a month off. My inbox is full but it doesn't bother me anymore. My blog has only ever meant to be a hobby and I had been thinking about giving up entirely but I will hang in a bit longer and see how I feel.. 9 years is a long time!!

These winter nights are not helping either with the blogging!! Everything I photograph looks odd and I've spent ages trying to adjust the colour balance!! Fingers crossed in the new year we may also be in pastures new...hopefully with much better lighting too!! Though the whole process is the part of my current stress levels, it will be worth it in the end! I've already decided summer cannot come around quick enough - our current kitchen is freezing and I am currently huddled under my snuggie blanket typing, thawing out from cooking our dinner tonight!!

Comfort food is definitely winning at the moment and this is one of those dishes! I am following my FODMAP about 80% of the time and whilst I think I've worked out both wheat and dairy are not my BFF's, we are alright mates if we don't hang out too frequently! I missed bread to much to carry on long term, also with it being the 'C' season I've been eating out a lot and doing FODMAP + restaurants is always a bad idea!! I have been avoiding garlic but a little in this would be probably rather lovely!!

A few months back when I started re-assessing my diet, I discovered Buckwheat, which isn't actually a type of wheat and is more grain like in texture. Its slightly nutty and its really versatile - it soaks up flavours brilliantly too and I've been making lots of risotto style dishes with it. This dish is also a one pan winner - less washing up is always good!! Its also fairly cheap to make, in a month full of annual type bills its very welcome! 

Serves 3

100g buckwheat
200g smoked peppered mackerel, skinned and shredded
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 courgette, cut into strips
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 small stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
5 tbsp parmesan, grated
1/2 tbsp herbs de provence
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
S&P to taste

Soak the buckwheat for about 10 minutes in cold water and rinse well. (This helps to remove any wheaty dust etc but isn't the end of the world if you forget!)

Heat a glug of olive oil in a saute pan till hot and fry the carrot and celery for 5 minutes, until starting to soften and then stir in the remaining veggies and fry until the courgette is starting to become lightly golden - about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the prepared buckwheat, herbs de provence and add the tomatoes. Fill the empty tin with water and pour over, cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Fold in the prepared mackerel and half the parmesan and heat through. Scatter over the basil and remaining parmesan and serve

Serve in big bowls and enjoy!

Monday 3 October 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Ahh I feel like such a bad blogger! Honestly I still cook but trying to cook + blog my FODMAP diet and all the fun that entailed + life in general it all got a bit too much! Plus I have lots of exciting stuff going on and its been crazy busy and its left little time for my little blog! I don't want to tempt fate.... but crossed toes and fingers we are on the move....! 

Last week it was my boyfriends and a good friends birthday, which means cake and lots of it so I relaxed a little on the FODMAP rules and also skipped a week of 'reintroduction' I've kinda figured out wheat is a little naughty but in moderation...its okay... plus I missed croissants too much! Dairy is also...a little dodgy I think but again... all in moderation...plus when PMT comes along it blows it out the park so to speak so it was a needed 'week off'!

This week is fairly simple, a mix of favourites and mostly FODMAP friendly. I am a little addicted to Halloumi and have now converted a few more last weekend at a BBQ we hosted for my B's birthday - I made my loved Bacon and Halloumi salad but without the potatoes, as I'd already made potato salad and figured we had enough carbs!! For this weeks lunches, I prepped ahead last night and made a tray of roasted veggies, with smoky chunks of chorizo and a scattering of halloumi crumbed up - my golly it made for a good lunch box today! If only they would invent smell-o-vision!

Bacon & spinach omelette, new potato salad 
(need to use up some leftover bacon)

Spag bol
(gluten free spaghetti)
Squash and halloumi fritters, sauteed courgettes
(trying to figure out a plan for half a chunk of halloumi!)
Grilled gammon steaks, fried egg, roasted new potatoes, sauteed cavolo nero 
(a favourite of ours!)

Smoked salmon & veggie filled rice paper wraps, edamame to start
(really liking some rice paper wraps I bought a few weeks back, sort of DIY supper!)

Monday 19 September 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Sorry I've been slacking - I had a good excuse though - I was very busy drinking Sangria watching the sunset over the mountains in Spain! Despite knowing most beverages fairly well, for some reason I had never overly tried Sangria before and towards the end of the holiday and not being put off it despite one of the guidebook descriptions I was pleasantly surprised - it was a little like pimms but sort of red winey too.. either way very refreshing after another busy day spent reading and lazing by the pool! The picture doesn't quite do it justice- was more fish bowl sized!!

Now I am back home (sob, sob!) Meal planning is back in swing, though I'm still on the FODMAP reintroduction phase which makes it essential in the form of planning but also hard as most things I want to eat are off limits and its hard to stay inspired at times!

This week is super busy - have a full week back at work along with planned cinema trips, friends over, other friend staying with us and a dreaded 2nd root canal treatment on Friday!! 

Curried Corned beef hash, made with extra veg (basically using up some leftovers!) alongside some roasted marrow and carrots 

Chorizo & Cheddar omelette, new potatoes, buttered Kale

Smoky tomato Slow cooked pork stew, rice 

Sardine and pepper stir fry and rice noodles 
(I have never had sardines and I am really unsure about them but need to boost up my calcium levels!)

Dentist in the afternoon... dinner will be most likely either involving porridge or gravy!

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