Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bacon, fried egg, broccoli and mashed potato
tonight. I bought the bacon when we visited Chatsworth in Derbyshire yesterday. It was delicious; a mild cure only slightly sweet from The Cheshire Smokehouse, Chatsworth cure. The smokehouse has a website, but no mail order. The Chatsworth website says mail order will be available in April. I hope so. The bacon is really good.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Marinaded steak, Chocolate fondant pudding

Son's 22nd birthday today. He'll be gracing us with his presence for a couple of weeks. We made supper together. I did the savouries, he the pudding. Apparently he's eaten this a few times. I found a recipe on the BBC site. It turned out well, but not molten enough in the middle. I saw another recipe which suggested putting the uncooked pots in the fridge for a few hours, then cooking for a shorter time. Also, the 85% chocolate is too strong for my personal taste. I think I'd try half and half dark and milk chocolate.
The marinaded beef was as I made it before, with the addition of fried mushrooms and onions.

 Chocolate Fondant puddings

serves 4

125g butter, plus extra for greasing

25g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

2 eggs, plus 2 yolks

100g caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Evenly brush individual metal pudding moulds (175ml) with butter. Evenly coat the buttered moulds with flour, tapping off any excess. Transfer the prepared moulds to a baking sheet.

Place the chocolate and butter in a pyrex or pottery bowl. I find the easiest way to melt them is to put in the microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, checking and stirring every minute. Once melted, stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.

Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat on high for minutes or until very thick, pale and fluffy. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar. Sift in the flour and gently fold it in.

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared pudding moulds. Place in the oven for 14-16 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes. Using a tea towel, invert onto plates and carefully remove the moulds. Serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a good glug of double cream.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ragu with spaghetti, broccoli

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Tonight, rump steak cooked on a griddle, carrots and peppers and penne pasta. The carrots and peppers dish was originally inspired by having lots to use up, but we like it so much that its now a  favourite.

Carrots and peppers

Peel and cut carrots into strips. De seed red peppers and cut into strips. Warm olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook the carrots and peppers for about an hour, turning every so often. We like them when they are slightly caramelised and a bit charred. Tonight we are using 5 carrots and 2 peppers. At the very end of cooking stir in the juice of a whole lemon. Absolutely delicious as a side dish. Also nice on pasta or cold as a relish.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Marinated grilled chicken, Dry cauliflower curry
The chicken had been marinating for 48 hours. It's been years since I made this. I always find it quite difficult to grill chicken. The result is usually very well cooked areas, with some undercooked bits. I seem to remember better results cooking it in the oven then putting under the grill for a few minutes. However, the vinegar in the marinade had tenderised it nicely. The cauliflower curry went well with the chicken. it tasted especially nice when mixed with the basmati rice.

Marinated chicken
 from An invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

Half of a whole chicken, cut into pieces (about 800g)

2 medium size onions peeled and coarsely chopped    fresh chili to taste, seeded
4 cloves garlic peeled and chopped                                 1tsp ground cumin
1" piece fresh ginger peeled and chopped                      1tbsp ground coriander
1/4 pint wine vinegar                                                         2tbsp oil
salt and pepper

Grind all ingredients in an electric blender. I use a small Revel blender which reduces the ingredients to slush very efficiently.
Take skin off chicken pieces, prick with a fork and mix with the marinade in a pottery bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4-48 hours.
Preheat oven to 180C. Take chicken out of marinade and  cook on wire rack about 45 minutes. Brown under grill. Baste with extra marinade while cooking if necessary.

Cauliflower curry
 from Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed

1 medium cauliflower cut into florets                        2.5ml ground turmeric
1 medium onion chopped 10mls ground coriander
10mls cumin seeds          juice of 1 lemon
2 medium potatoes peeled and cut in chunks
2.5mls chili powder
plain yoghourt

Heat 2 tbsp oil in frying pan. Fry onion until light brown. Then add cumin seeds for a minute or two until they start making a popping noise. Add the potato pieces and cook for 4-5 minutes, then stir in cauliflower and cook for another few minutes. Add all the spices and lemon juice. Cover and cook gently for another 10 -15 minutes. Stir in plain yoghurt at the end.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday lunch out today with work colleagues, everybody contributing a dish. I made the sponge, and there was enough left over for us to have for supper. A simple supper because of the large lunch: grilled sausages, broccoli, and;

Celeriac and potato mash

Peel and cut up roughly equal amounts of celeriac and potato. Cook in salted water for about 20 minutes. Drain and mash with olive oil.

Pear and almond sponge

150g/5½oz butter
150g/5½oz unrefined golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
75g/3oz plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
100g/3½oz ground almonds
poached pears

Set the oven at 180C/355F/Gas 4. Line the base of a square 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep, with a piece of baking parchment.
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whilst this is happening, peel and quarter the pears. I used Conference pears and poached them until just cooked in a little water, sugar and lemon juice.
Break the eggs, beat them lightly with a fork, then add them bit by bit to the butter and sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold them gently into the mixture. Fold in the ground almonds. 
Scrape the mixture into the lined cake tin. Place the poached pears on the cake mixture. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes, then test for doneness with a skewer. If it comes out clean, without any wet cake mixture sticking to it, then the cake is ready. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for fifteen minutes before turning out.
 The original recipe came from the internet and was for a plum and almond sponge. This was also delicious, but unfortunately I've forgotten where I got the recipe, so can't acknowledge it.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Tagliatelle with roast tomato sauce

Home made tagliatelle. Nice texture, but not quite enough sauce. The same quantity of sauce we would normally use for bought spaghetti wasn't quite enough for the tagliatelle. I've never really grasped before the Italian use of different sauces for different shapes of pasta. But I can now see that this thick sauce spreads much more easily around the cylindrical shape of the spaghetti.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Braised fennel with taleggio and salami, rice with sundried tomato

I bought some taleggio cheese the other day, having seen in a newspaper a recipe using it. It was said to be a good melting cheese. For the meal tonight I quartered two small bulbs of fennel. I cooked them in a little butter and water for about 15 minutes in a covered pan. Meanwhile I cooked some basmati rice. In a separate pan I softened a chopped onion, adding strips of sundried tomato (from a bottle of sundried tomatoes in oil). I added the cooked rice to the onion and tomatoes and mixed in ground pepper and lemon juice. The cooked fennel was placed in a small dish, scattered with chopped salami, and slices of taleggio put on top. The dish was put under a preheated grill for 3-4 minutes.
I've only eaten taleggio once before. It tasted rather like camembert and rather overpowered the taste of the fennel. The rice was nice though, especially with the lemon flavour.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


225g kidney beans, cooked weight
60mls sunflower/cooking oil
2 onions peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1kg beef mince
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
15mls chili powder, or to taste
5mls paprika
5mls cumin
45mls tomato puree
15mls flour
2x 400g tins tomatoes

In a large casserole fry the onions and garlic until golden but not burned. Add mince and fry until browned.

Add the pepper and everything else except the tomatoes and beans. Mix and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add tomatoes and beans. Mix and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce heat to lowest possible. If dry add leftover liquid from beans or water. Keep the liquid at about the level of the dry ingredients.

Cook slowly for one and a half hours+

Chili con Carne on white rice, broccoli

Chilii cooked as a big batch by G

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Leftovers tonight

Cooked rice, diced pork (from last night), ratatouille. Mix all together and reheat gently. Quite tasty.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

A small piece of local Somerset shoulder of pork tonight. For the last few years we have been buying almost all our meat through a local organisation: http://www.sfmdirect.co.uk The rind was rubbed with a little oil and salt, then roasted at 180C for 30 minutes per lb +30 minutes. This gives a lovely crunchy crackling. With this we ate roast potatoes and the fennel salad.

Fennel and Orange Salad

  • adapted from Abel & Cole

    1/2  navel orange, peeled and cut into small chunks

  • 1/2 bulb fennel, finely sliced
  • 2 slices onion finely chopped
  • 2 pitted black olives, chopped
  • 2  sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Mix all ingredients together. Serve at  once.

This a very nice, fresh tasting salad. Unfortunately, the balsamic vinegar made it look rather murky. It would have looked more attractive if the orange was reserved and scattered on top. The garlic added a nice sharpness.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Polenta with chicken liver sauce, spring greens

Polenta, quick cook, only 5 minutes stirring; bland base for a chicken liver sauce: 
Soften a large chopped onion in a little olive oil. When soft, add 2 chopped garlic cloves and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan. In the same pan quickly cook thinly sliced mushrooms. When mushrooms are cooked put onions back into the pan. Add enough water to make a sauce, a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree, the juice of half a lemon,and a good shake of soy sauce. Let simmer. Meanwhile quickly brown chopped chicken livers. Mix livers into sauce and serve on top of the polenta.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Baked potato with ratatouille and grated cheddar
not much to say about this
good comfort food again

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Marinaded steak strips 

We've been away for the weekend and brought back some steak from my mother's freezer. The provenance and age are uncertain, so I thought it could probably do with some help. A marinade of thin strips seemed the best way to do this.

2 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp honey
4tbsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
5mls ground black pepper

450g steak, trimmed, then cut into 0.5 cm thin strips across the grain of the meat

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a non- metal bowl. Put in steak, mix and leave for about 1 hour.
To cook: heat olive oil in large frying pan. Tip in meat when oil starts to smoke. Cook on high heat about 5 minutes. Lower heat and tip in enough double cream to make a sauce. I served this with white rice and leek chunks softened in butter.

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