Wednesday, 28 April 2010

To much mash potato's

I have always had a love affair with traditional English winter fayre, so lot's of beef stew with dumplings and mash, or any kind of pie with mash, pork belly with mash, roast dinner with mash all washed down with several pints of organic cider and a crackling fire, enough with the mash its spring!!
Now don't get me wrong I will still be eating potato's in all there various forms at a more than normal and buttery rate, but I feel it is definitely now the time to cut back a bit, especially with all the gorgeous weather we have been having so this weeks meal's are going to be potato free with my home-made chicken curry, sticky sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice and peanut stir fry to mention a few.
Tonight's meal was meant to be left over spaghetti bolognese and salad but my other half 'Mercer' suggested we have breakfast for dinner, hash browns, eggs, mushrooms, bacon, beans and sausage so not exactly a great start but I am weak when it comes to food and Breakfast for dinner sounds to good to miss really...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Chicken stock and spicy soup.

After yesterdays heart warming and stomach filling roast chicken I am definitely in the mood for something lighter and have decided to make a nourishing soup with the chicken carcass and whatever I have left in the fridge which generally turns out rather well. I took off all the remaining meat from the bird which will be used in sandwiches, pasta or perhaps even a pie filling during the week and then placed the carcass in a large pot of boiling water with carrots, onions, leeks, bay leaves and peppercorns, usually I would put some fresh herbs in to but had none to hand so I make do without. I made my stock at lunchtime so it would have a few hours to simmer down and reduce to get every last scrap of delicious chicken flavour out of those bones, skimming the fat and scum off the top as I went.
After having a rummage in the fridge I have come up with a butternut squash, carrots, parsnips and ginger which seems a perfect combination for a fabulous soup, especially as I have that gorgeous savour stock waiting to be used in it. I decided to roast my butternut squash and parsnips and while they baked I sweated onions, garlic, carrots and ginger in olive oil and decided to raid my spice cupboard and decided to add garam masala, cumin seeds, start anise and a Cinnamon stick for a spicy depth and warmth.
When the squash was ready I scooped out the sticky fleshy middle and added it to my pan before pouring over my stock and then hand blending and seasoning with cracked pepper and a bit of creme fraiché... delicious.


Monday, 26 April 2010

Roast Chicken...One day late.

Money has been a bit tight of late to say the least, but things do seem to be on the up so happy face's all around and about time to! I am quite a traditionalist in some ways and one thing that i always try to do is the obligatory Sunday Roast and due to cash flow problems i could not conjure one up yesterday, but today is a different story and I am very excited at the prospect of roast potato's indeed!
I went to the local shops and bought a large free range chicken and everything else i need to make the perfect spring time roast dinner including lemons, sage and white wine. I will be reporting back later with some yummy looking photo's and recipe's to accompany it, so do please pop back for a look!

I am very sorry to report that my camera has decided it no longer wants to work so I was unable to take any photo's which is rather dissapointing for me and you!
I can give you an account in words of the delicious meal I prepared and I am afraid that will have to do! First of all I smeared my chicken in butter and sprinkled with cracked pepper, sea salt and some sage and then shoved a lemon up it's behind for that spring time flavour! I also put banana shallots in the roasting tin with the chicken with there skins still on to stop them burning.
I made roast potato's by par boiling them, draining them and giving them a good shake in the saucepan to ruff up the edges so they go nice and crispy. I put goose fat in a roasting tin on the highest setting in the oven so it was smoking hot and then put my potato's in there and shoved them in the oven to go all gooey on the inside and crispy and sticky on the outside, and I would like to point out that I don't always have a jar of goose fat lying around it was one of my foodie Christmas preasents from my Mummy, but a good tip is to drain any excess fat from whatever meat your roasting and put it in the fridge for your next roast, but of course make sure you leave a bit in the tin to make your gravy!
To go with the chicken and potato's I did steamed some chard and broccoli, honey roast parsnips, my famous cauliflour cheese( only famous actually if your my best friend Gemma or me who perticually love cheese based food) mashed swede and mashed potato...What's that you say, mashed and roast potato? Well yes, me and my brother always demanded of my Mother that we had to have roasted and mashed potato's with our Sunday roast, decedant you may think but come on, why choose when you can have both! And to finish I made gravy in the roasting tin used to cook the chicken by placing it over the hob and pushing the shallotts out of there skin and stiring in flour to soak up the fat, I then added some vegetable bouilloun powder and a glass of white wine a little at a time, stiring continuously. I saved all the water that I bloiled my swede, and potato's in and used that to finish the gravy and there you have it, my spring time roast chicken! And just to inform you all that my lovely Brother is going to let me borrow him camera for an extended period of time so I will be able to post some photo's up very soon.

Friday, 23 April 2010

BBQ Weather

As the weather has been so lovely I thought it would be a great idea to have a BBQ at one of the many large parks in Brighton and invite a load of friends so that what I did. I went to the butchers and bought Cumberland sausages, burgers, pork steaks, chicken drumsticks and thighs and some ribs. I marinated the ribs, chicken and pork in a spicy home made marinade that had fresh onion and garlic, cayenne powder, 1 tsp of brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice, pinch of salt and was the blended with orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce and the juice of a lime. I put all the chicken, ribs and pork in a separate container's and put them in the fridge to marinade for a few hours as that was all the time I had, it would have been much better if it was left over night!
I also made some garlic field mushrooms which are the really big ones, I just mixed crushed garlic and parsley with butter and spread generous amounts on the mushrooms and baked them in the oven in tin foil for 20Min's and I would finish them on the BBQ to crisp them up a bit. I made a potato salad with new potato's, mayonnaise and spring onion and also made a big salad to go with it as well as bread rolls and baps of course!
Everything turned out very well and we all had a lovely day, I ended up cooking everything and the food didn't last long! I hope to have many more with Lot's of other lovely food to tell you about.


Friday, 16 April 2010

First day at Bills!

Today I had my trial shift at the yummy 'Bills' in Brighton to be there brand spanking new commis chef and I believe it went rather well! I had to be there at 9am and I was very nervous as this would be my first time in a professional kitchen and wasn't entirly sure what to expect. My first task of the day was to make two vegetarian quiches from scrath, so armed with the recipie I made two very lovely looking quiches and was rather pleased with myself, they looked edible,horay! Next I made a vat of guacamolie which was easy peasy and my final quest for the day was to make a batch of haddock and prawn pies and a batch of chicken pies which I think were my biggest triumph of the day, they looked like a professional had made them!
I was asked to try everything I made, it all tasted great and the head chef was pleased with me, so all in all a very good day was had, oh yes but apart from the layer of skin I burnt off my arm when removing the pies from the oven, that was not so great. If you have never been to Bills and you happen to be in the East Sussex area you really should come in for luch or just to purchase some of the produce that is also sold on the premises like fruit, veg, local cheese, meat, jams, chutneys, fresh pasta...the list could go on! I have added some photo's of Bills so you can see how tempting it is for yourself!



Thursday, 15 April 2010

Cooking on a budget

Recently I have been trying very hard to plan my meals for the next week and then go out to buy the ingredients I need and not stray from my shopping list but it's not as easy as I was hoping it would be! I am the kind of girl that loves nothing better than going food shopping, as far as I am concerned there is no better shopping than that of food! I became very accustomed to sitting down each day aided by my laptop and abnormally large amount of cookery books and magazines to think about what I fancied eating that evening and when I had chosen, off I would go to purchase the goodies needed from the various food emporiums scattered around Brighton, whether it be 'Thaj' with all its tempting exotic spices, vegetable and amazing hot counter with home-made samosas and kebabs or perhaps 'Infinity Foods' which has by far the best hand made pitta bread and creamy organic hummus I have ever tasted.
My biggest confession is my unashamed weakness for 'Waitrose'.. Yes I know its a chain supermarket and its expensive but I just can't get enough, Waitrose is my crack, dangerously addictive and so terribly moreish!
But alas I cannot afford my Waitrose fix at the moment so I am shopping around for the best deals I can find and I feel I am becoming a better person for it because I am learning the value of money. I managed to get two weeks worth of shopping for around £35 which for me to do is a miracle, I have always had the power but just not wanted to use it. I bought a huge bag of carrots for £1 and a butternut squash for 69p and with some onions i already had and some chicken stock I had made from last weeks Sunday roast, I made a very tasty soup which I had for lunch for the next week, fabulous!
Now as much as I would like to say I am totally converted to a frugal way of living I know for a fact i will still spend well over £35 on artisan cheeses, breads and organic meat at a farmers market and perhaps pop into waitrose for the ingredients for that nights dinner when my cash situation allows me again, but I have learnt how to budget and make a tasty meal out of not very much at all and will continue to use my new found skills in my every day life!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

My first ever Macaroons

I went to stay with my wonderful Mummy and her equally wonderful Husband Dave at the stunning countryside retreat 'Oxon Hoath' where my Mum lives and works for a spot of baking which hasn't always been my strong point due to the fact I am not a follower of recipes and just like to throw it all in, and apparently that doesn't work to well when it comes to cakes and things! So under strict instructions from Mum to follow the recipe exactly I attempted to make some Rose and pistachio macaroons which I have always coveted when looking through the window of the patisserie close to where I live, there is something very 'Alice in Wonderland' about them!
Well I did as I was told and turned out some rather perfect and delicious macaroons if I do say so myself, they looked good enough to sell!



My adventures in Melbourne Australia.

One of the best decisions I have made in my life so far was to go and live in Melbourne Australia for as long as I could, so with my flight paid for and £500 in my bank account I set off alone into the unknown for an adventure and what an adventure it was, if not slightly terrifying at the same time! I managed to get myself a room at a so called 'backpackers' in St Kilda which I first had to clear about 2 years of rubbish from and clean in exchange for a weeks free rent which seemed like a great deal at first, but slowly became more trouble than it was worth due the amount of unidentified dead things and old bed frames I had to haul out of there, it only took me four days, but wasn't to shabby in the end! BBQ's became a large part of my life when living there and oh how me and my backpacker friends barbecued, huge steaks, rissoles, sausages or 'snags' as the Aussies call them and some of the most amazing and freshest seafood I have ever tasted which was all purchased from one of the many huge food markets always bursting with such tempting produce. I spent many a happy day trawling those markets and picking up treats!
I bet your all wondering how i managed to pay for these 'treats' when I only went to Australia with £500 in my bank, well I got myself a job as a waitress at 'Leroys Espresso' on Acland Street in St Kilda, a fabulous cafe selling some of the yummiest food I have ever eaten, I never thought I would praise any breakfast higher than a good old English fry up but my God the breakfasts served there were out of this world, eggs benedict, corn and zucchini fritters with chili sauce, fresh mint and natural yogurt, cooked to order pancakes with fruit compote or bananas and syrup, healthy versions of an English fry up, home made muesli, bircher muesli, fruit bread, porridge and lovingly made muffins baked fresh each morning! One of my favourite combinations was poached egg, sauteed spinach, avocado, mushrooms, fried tomato, toasted sourdough and hollindaise sauce to dip into, heaven on a plate indeed, oh and I did I mention you will never find a better made cup of delicious coffee anywhere else in the world.