Monday, 26 January 2009

Creamy Mushroom Soup

I do a lot of soup making but realised today, following a conversation at work that I had never made mushroom soup, not sure why as I love mushrooms!! I have fond memories of a company where I used to work at, a lady I shared my desk with called Shirley always bought mushroom soup in, in her thermos and would very kindly share it with me, I remember it being thick and full of mushrooms, sadly I didn't really cook back then and never thought to ask for the recipe, now I don't need to, and dare I say its better? ;-) I was actually going to post tonight a new oven baked risotto recipe we ate for dinner but this was more tastier!

And so today, following the work conversation, I agreed to make mushroom soup and take my colleague a bowl in tomorrow for his lunch, now I have made it, its rather gorgeous and I'm not altogether sure I want to share it!! However, I know thats greedy and me being the nice person I am, just had to share it with you all! It also helps that yesterday we had a roast chicken and I lovingly made the stock afterwards with the carcass ;-)

I'm so happy with the results, I vow never to buy in mushroom soup again as this is like mushroom heaven, creamy and earthy, just the way mushroom soup should be I think!

Makes a good four servings, I'm intending to freeze some so will let you know if succesful, though I don't see why it won't! :-)


750g mushrooms (I used value punnet, £1.34!) cut into small chunks
750 ml chicken stock, hot (I used home made though you could use a light veggie one)
300ml milk
1 large white onion, finely diced
S&P to taste
30g butter
30g plain flour + 2 tbsp
2 tbsp olive oil

Note: You will need two big pans for this, I used my Le creuset casserole for the mushrooms

1) Firstly heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and whisk together for 1-2 minutes until mixed and golden, now add the milk and keep whisking so it does not stick

2) In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan/ casserole, add the onion and gently fry but be careful not to colour, I used a medium low heat setting and placed the lid on

3) Return to the whisking pan, it should be a little thicker, add the warmed stock and whisk together over a medium-ish heat for about 5 minutes, now add the remaining flour (*I may re-write this part at a later date, I added as was not thick enough!) and whisk together, keeping a close eye on it, move to next stage

4) Add the mushrooms to the onions, mix well and re-cover, return to the sauce mix and keep it bubbling on an even heat for about 10 minutes, until about the thickness of a light custard

5) Tip the mushroom mix, juices included to the sauce, and simmer for a further 10 minutes, ensuring it does not stick on the bottom, season to taste

6) Remove from heat and blend lightly with a stick blender, I only blitzed half of the soup as I like a thick texture but also mushroom chunks in!

7) Pour into a bowl and tuck in with glee!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Two Cookery books for the price of None!

Apologies for delay since my last posting, I have had what the doctor called 'golfer's elbow' (I have no idea how, or why, as I don't even play golf!) which has ultimately left me unable to cook, read or anything else really, how typical the one time I am off work and I can't pore over my bookshelves, its been a depressing fortnight! How people cope with daytime television I will never know. However, am slowly getting back into cooking, restricted a little though but seemingly on the mend, finally!

Meals in our household have needless to say been interesting, my other half doesn't share my love of food or cooking and has been quite put out at having to make dinner, but bless his heart he has coped well with my bossing around and we are still alive to tell the tale!
I have, with his help, tried a few new recipes out from my mountain of books, with mixed results not worth blogging about unfortunately! However I can recommend the Lamb and Spinach pilaf from Olive magazine, was very easy and tasty for an after work meal. Lets just say the recipe for Weight Watchers Thai chicken & spinach curry won't be featuring again at home...

And yes, getting back to my title, you did read it correctly!

As you all will know I love and hoard food books, they are addictive reading. I received two free cookbooks last week, which managed to put a smile on my face! I am now up to 99, I don't like seeing odd numbers so might just have to rectify....though I did just pay for a holiday, plus exhibition tickets, so I might need to leave it till February!

The first book was a complete surprise, a while back I had entered a competition from Olive magazine and never expected to win, but then was pleasantly surprised when 'A Passion for Puddings' by Paul Vickery landed on my on doormat! Every dish looks delicious and more importantly to me, manageable - goodbye to my waistline in 2009!! I look forward to trying out the recipes and have already agreed with a girlfriend that come summer, she is getting her BBQ out and I am bringing over strawberry coconut cheesecake for pudding, as I think will make a perfect summer treat!
Secondly, I was in the supermarket and Green and Black's had a promotion, where if you purchase 2 bars of chocolate you get their book free! (okay you've twisted my arm!) Unfortunately I am a little impatient and whilst the recipes look lovely, some a little more interesting, I feel the first book will get more kitchen time! Nice to drool over anyway, whilst I consume my bar of Almond chocolate...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Oven Baked Risotto

As you will all note from an earlier post, I recently became the proud owner of a lovely shiny black Le Creuset casserole and was dying to christen it!!

As part of my new years resolutions, I have vowed to cook at least one recipe a week from the mountain of books and magazines that own the bookshelf in the spare room, and so decided the first recipe would combine both that and the Le Creuset!

I love risotto but making it can be a chore, especially on a week night when there is a million other things occupy your time, I had seen in a copy of a Good Food mini-mag a recipe for oven baked risotto and thought it would make perfect first recipe, its also available here online: (link removed)


250g pack smoked bacon , chopped into small pieces
1 onion , chopped
25g butter
300g risotto rice (I used spanish paella rice)
half a glass of white wine (optional) - (I didn't want to open a bottle so used a splash of Vermouth)
150g pack cherry tomatoes , halved (approx 7)700ml hot chicken stock (from a cube is fine) (I used a chicken boulion cube)50g parmesan , grated

1) Heat the oven, 180 fan / 200 gas. Gently heat an oven-proof deepish pan I.e. a Le Creuset casserole, add the bacon and fry until crispy. Note: Do not put lid back on as doesn't aid the browning part!

2) Add the onion and butter, mix well and cook until golden, a couple of mins, stir in rice and vermouth /wine (if using), pour over stock, mix well and transfer to oven, with lid tightly on. It took about 19 minutes in my fan but note on Good Food comments some people said took longer.

3) Grate over parmesan and serve. It made 2 large bowls for dinner and two smaller tubs for our lunches today

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Out with the Old and in with the New!

Happy New shiny 2009 to everyone!

Today marks the end of a short era for me. Whilst I've always loved eating food, I only became slightly obsessed and learned to cook about 3.5 years ago, not that long after me and the beloved moved in together and I found myself in a tiny kitchen with 3 saucepans and a pack of cutlery and 1 cook book. Now 97 cook books later, in a much bigger kitchen and all is great, I can now cook without burning (okay excluding yesterdays brownies!) and serve up edible, and cooked food!

I had never really kept a diary before, excluding of course the ones I had when I was much younger and had a padlock on the side, full of a 9 year old's secrets abouts boys I had crushes on! However one Saturday morning about 3 years ago, it all changed when I saw a cute, purple, 3 year diary out shopping and decided to start keeping one again. This time around not about crushes, but about what I ate for dinner (and the odd lunch and breakfast!)

Almost in a sad way, the 3 years are now full, stuffed with memories and recipes! I love reading back through and seeing what we had, on a particular date and also the occasional comment:

21/09/06 - Count On Us Lasagne - vile!

I can't remember what happened but the entry for 22/12/06 reads 'Me - carbonara. Went wrong :('

18/02/07 - First time I ordered a steak in a restaurant (bizarrely I thought I didn't like steak, I have since learnt the errors of my ways!).

This is The Diary:

Looking back now I can really see how my tastes and cooking has evolved (hopefully for the better!)

The very first entry reads:

16th January 2006

Battered Chicken Breasts
Vegetable stir-fry

The very last entry is:

31st December 2008

Breaded Camembert with home made cranberry jam and sweet chilli sauce

M&S Rib-eye steaks, with parmentier potatoes, roasted onions and finest peas, my steak glazed with balsamic vinegar and the beloved had chive butter on his

Followed by hazelnut brownie and extra thick cream (though I used 80% cocoa chocolate and unfortunately it burnt on the edges!)

Moving forward, for 2009 I have the River Cottage diary, which is really nicely laid out and full of useful notes, which I look forward to adding to!

May 2009 bring everyone happiness, health and good food!
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