Saturday, 30 August 2008

Market Gems and Blueberry Love

Finding myself in town this morning I stopped in the market and picked up two lovely cauliflowers, some leeks, parsnips, broccoli, peppers, a cucumber, some giant peaches and nectarines, 2 tubs raspberries for £1 and the ultimate bargain - 3 tubs of blueberries for £1! I was admitedely laiden like a cart horse but managed to get everything home in one piece!

Wanting to show the berries at their finest I made a cheesecake:

However I was too eager and added the slightly hot jelly topping too soon, which stirred up some of the creamy mixture!

I am sure come tomorrow when served as pudding will be fine! Have used both sweetmeal digestives and ginger nuts in the base, smelt pretty good so heres hoping! (It was very very good and all went!)

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Frugal Living and General update

In the run up to my upcoming summer holiday (2 weeks!) and also the fact due to everything going up in price, we have been eating through the freezer and cupboards lately, which as a result I've not posted as much recently. One pot rice is becoming a permanent fixture it would appear!

Frugal has been the watchword at home, resulting in some interesting combinations, not worthy of writing but not as bad as when I was at college, working around the clock many moons ago! I have been bulking out dishes more and using items that have been lurking in the freezer a bit too long! We finally ate the handmade pork and leek sausages from the butchers last week (in freezer since June!), which I thought were lovely and meaty but the other half is not easily pleased and was not as fond unfortuantely, there is still a pack of cumberland which are down for this Friday so will see how they compare.

It was my partner's birthday last week and we had his family over for dinner which was lovely. I especially took the day off work and made in total 16 generous portions of lasagne, from scratch, including the bechámel sauce and it was worth it as one of the best I have made, I also have realised I need to edit my link for ragu as seems quite different to the one I make now! For anyone attempting large quantities of lasagne, I used 2 kg minced beef, 500g grated cheese, a ball of mozzarela, a cup of parmesan and 3 pints of milk, amongst other items!

Also forgot to add I am now the proud owner of two Microplane graters! Where have they been all my life?! I realised also that I do in fact rather like kitchen gadgets as found myself cooing over the little curls it had made of my cheese last night!

Hope everyone is keeping well :)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Its A Wrap!

Now don't get me wrong, I know they are popular but I just really don't 'do' sandwiches, especially the ready made variety, two slices of white cheap bread with an indifferent filling smothered in cheap mayo, no thankyou! However this week we had some wraps that needing using up and not wanting to waste decided to have for my lunches.

Here are two easy, quick and tasty ideas for lunchtimes:

Wrap 1 - take half a tin of mixed salad beans and drain well, smother a (herby) tortilla wrap with low fat soft cheese (I like sainsburys BGTY one!), place the drained beans on one half and roll up carefully from that end snugly, until rolled up, slice in half and eat! Surprisingly tasty for something very simple. The leftover beans can be kept for up to 2 days in the fridge.

Wrap 2 - Thinly slice 4 closed cup mushrooms, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan, add a bashed clove of garlic and when browning discard, now fry the mushrooms for no more than 2-3 mins until a nice golden colour, drain on kitchen paper until cooled, season with black pepper and a pinch of chives if you have them, smother the wrap with low fat soft cheese and place mushrooms on half of it then roll from that end, slice as before and serve.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A Labour of Love

Last night I decided to make my own pastry, now I make shortcrust all the time so no issue there, its now safely tucked up in the fridge to turn into my bacon, spinach and tomato flan tonight: However I decided some kitchen therapy was in order and decided to make Puff-pastry, something I had not done in years and after carefully reading the recipe last night realised I hadn't actually made it properly before!!

Nearly 3 hours from start to finish and lots and lots of layers later, I have now a rather lovely, if I do say so myself, block of puff pastry waiting to be used tonight to make these divine little thai sausage rolls from :

*Well they both look great! The pastry was spot on so thank you Good Housekeeping! The puff rose beautfully and was light, buttery and crisp round the spicy filling, of course we had to sample one or two just to test ;-) and the trim of the shortcrust pastry was lovely and 'short' and crumbly - will post pictures later

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Bacon and Spinach Rice with Pesto

This is a simple after work supper

1 mugful long grain rice
3 mugfuls cold water
3 rashers bacon, roughly chopped into 1cm pieces
4 'cubes' frozen spinach, defrosted (keep the liquid
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 jar green pesto

1) Heat a large flat non-stick pan, add 1/2 chopped onion, 3 rashers of trimmed bacon, roughly chopped and stir well (no fat at this stage) and cook for about 4 mins until browning, stirring so it doesnt stick

2)Add the spinach and its defrosted juices and break up with a wooden spoon, add 1 mug of long grain rice and stir in, add 3 mugfuls of water, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until nearly all the water is absorbed

3) Stir in half a jar of pesto (mine was from Lidl's) and mix well, season to taste and simmer for a couple more minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and serve immediately.

Makes 3 bowls and I have been told by the other half its very nice for lunch!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Beef and Broccoli in Oyster sauce

This one is a bit of a cheat but was very tasty and easy!

Serves 4

500g finely sliced frying steak (mine was a mixture of tescos beef stir fry strips and 1 large piece of frying steak bought reduced!)
1/3 bottle (enough to cover) Good quality thick oyster sauce, mine came from chinese supermarket..
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp meat tenderiser (I used Rajah's)
Black pepper
1/2 head broccoli cut into small florets
sunflower oil

1) Mix the beef, garlic, meat tenderiser and season very well with the black pepper, and marinade for 10 minutes

2) Heat a pan to medium-hot, add 1 tbsp oil and fry the broccoli for 2 minutes, stirring reguarly, now add the steak and its liquid, fry for 3-4 minutes and serve immediately with noodles / rice etc

(If you have leftover liquid after everythings gobbled, save it and freeze, next time you make rice add the sauce and and veg diced small and serve as a one pot, add extra stock if needed)

I've finally found 'the' book!

My mum has had nigh on 30 years a copy of 'Good Housekeeping's Cooking for Today' which I have borrowed countless times and have always kept a keen eye out for my very own copy but without luck. Ebay has had the odd copy, either in poor condition or far too expensive - but finally yesterday I got my hands on a copy, in excellent condition (considering its from 1973!!) for a bargain 50p in a local charity shop!

Retro cooking here we come!!
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