Sunday, 30 January 2011

Poached Egg with smoked mackerel and spinach

A bit of an impromptu brunch on Saturday...woke up late...lounged around not feeling hungry (thank you gigantic take away chinese meal Friday night)...and all of a sudden realised it was noon!  GAK!

Quickly rustled up this totally yummy and somewhat gourmet brekkie of toasted homemade bread (yum) with sauteed baby spinach, flaked hot smoked mackerel (left over from Thursday's pasta) topped with a perfectly runny poached egg.

Chocolate Cake for the end of a busy week

Well, I was trying very hard to implement a self-imposed baking ban...but I've had a tiring week and on Thursday I thought...hey....I am going to bake a cake this weekend!!

But what to bake? Something chocolate, something with icing, something completely naughty, but something easy and cheap! Since I've been working full time I've just wanted comfort with little effort (and...butter is fricking expensive!) so I settled on this easy chocolate cake from Martha Stewart!! Completely easy and I love baking with sour it was...perfect!! 

Topped with her easy chocolate glaze (oh so easy and soooo yummy) and served with lashings of cream (or more and more sour cream) this cake totally topped off my week!!!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Bread baking week 4...loaf 5

Last week we were in desperate carb withdraw and practically ate Sunday's loaf of bread in one sitting!! I didn't get a snap of it...and I wish I had since I've changed the method slightly and have used less yeast...different loaf...better loaf...and totally devoured! Wednesday I had to bake a second loaf to see us through the rest of the week ( snap)...I used a Hovis Granary bread mix (it was ok....but also my first Granary loaf) and it did the job.

Today...white loaf, new method...fantastic results.  I've started using a quick blend yeast from Dove Farm add it in with the dry ingredients and add the warm water as the mixture is turning the stand mixer...easy peasy and no need to re-activate the yeast!!! Also... have gone from 2 1/2 tsp yeast to 1 tsp yeast...better taste and more reasonable rise.  That first round loaf I made in the tin was gigantic and too!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

travelling for work...

The Bowes Museum...
No...Not in County Durham, actually, in a gorgeous town called Barnard Castle.  

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Roasted Squash Soup with Chorizo

I promise that I have actually been cooking the last week.  I promise promise is just that...well I am so hungry/impatient after working all day that I can't wait to dig in and are forgotten. We've been so good about planning and taking turns cooking dinner (and washing up after) and we've actually had some pretty stellar quick meals.... moroccan fish, minnestrone with tortellini and pesto, veggie curry, creamy mushroom pasta...the list goes no no pictures!

Monday night, after a yummy dinner of chicken with butter beans and chorizo (thank you david) I made a huge pot of roasted squash soup for lunches and Tuesday's dinner (David rushing out to meet friends and me having a tea date after work in the city).  It was simple to make ( I think the recipe came from a Sainsbury's magazine) and reheated really nicely.

The recipe calls for pumpkin or butternut squash, but I used a onion squash.  The flesh is a slightly greener orange (if that is possible) so the soup actually looks a little like baby sick...but tastes amazzzing!
I roasted about 1kg of squash cut up into chunks (skin still on) with about 4 garlic cloves (still in skin) 2 red onions cut into quarters, a couple of sprigs of rosemary and a glug of olive oil.  When everything was soft I scraped the squash out of its skin and into a saucepan with the onions and then squeezed the roasted garlic out of its skin into the mixture.  To that I added about 400ml of veggie stock and whizzed it up till smooth.  I chilled it overnight and when i reheated it I added 250ml of milk.  Yum yum yum.  In the original recipe it says to cook some bacon on the roasting tin with the squash...but that wasn't going to work.  We did, however, have some chorizo in the fridge that needed that got fried up and into the soup it went!! yum yum yum!!!!

Bit of a boring post (sorry)...can't promise anything bigger at the weekend...but you will be happy to hear that I have baked two loaves of bread since Sunday!!! 4 in total!!!! woop woop wooop!!!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Bread baking week 2

In my new issue of delicious magazine there is a little blurb about reclaiming bread baking and I've noticed a few of you have made the resolution to bake a loaf a week...we are SO ahead of the trend!!!

This week I stuck with the recipe from week one, and the method (oh so simple...thank you Kitchen Aid stand mixer).  The only difference? I plopped the dough into a round cake tin for the second rise, and for baking...resulting in a totally different looking and feeling loaf...

The end of my first working week...

Alright, so it was only 4 days (as David has so kindly pointed out) the end of my first working week as a full time slave to the man...I am totally exhausted! Commuting is killing me...actually, it isn't killing me...I can do the wake up early and go is in my is the coming home at the end of a long day thing that is killing me...the come in, get cooking (on alternate evenings), eat, wash up (on alternate evenings), do something for an hour, get ready for the next day, get ready for bed, conk out...and then wake up and start all over thing that is really killing me!!

And....what's with a two day weekend? It is Sunday night and I am not mentally (or physically) ready to start this whole thing over again...AND IT IS 5 DAYS THIS WEEK!!

The thing is...I love my job (on week one) and I know that I will continue loving it no matter how hard it is for my body to recover in two....very short....days.

We've eaten well this week, taking turns cooking and have managed to whip up some fabbo quick dinners. All of which means that come the weekend, I get to cook...I get to take longer than 10 mins to prep and longer than 20 mins to cook....I can relax, I can reflect, I can...enjoy.  In my meticulous planning I've singled out Saturday as the day for most of this.  Sunday, on the other hand, has been set aside for bread baking (more to come), mass lunch production, and the preparation of something to feed us over two nights (who wants to cook from scratch on a Monday....ahhh spoken like a true commuter).

And so...on the first Saturday of my first working week, I tried my hand at an albeit simple...yet...skilled...chicken cacciatore.  The recipe comes from an old issue of delicious magazine (need I say more) and will most certainly become a favourite of mine.

The sauce looks a little bit oily in this picture...but i assure you that it wasn't when mixed up.  It is made with mascarpone cheese and tinned cherry tomatoes...and is....To Die For.  I halved the recipe and it seemed to work like a charm....served on top of brown basmati and wild rice....yum!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

New adventures

I am not one for resolutions...I know I should try to exercise/drink less/eat better/be kinder/give to charity/keep the table tidy etc. etc. And with good all the good intentions in the world I have TRIED to keep resolutions in the past...but this year...I know they won't keep...I know me...I know my ways...

And...I've got other things to stress over...

I'm starting a new job tomorrow! Full that will see me commuting with the rest of the suckers who live out here in Chelmsford...I don't have time for resolutions...I have more important things to think dinner...and dessert...and housework.

I have grown accustomed to my life as a lady of leisure (well...part-time leisure).  My freelance job has allowed me the best of both work with little responsibility...and time to cook and bake and enjoy my life with my hubby...and now...all that I am used to is threatened by my new job!!!!! am soooo excited about this opportunity and everything that it will bring with it (totally a dream job) but commute?? wake up before 7:30?? oh god, what have I got myself into?

In preparation for this new way of life I have prepared a two week meal plan (oh god...I am sooo boring) and we've bought everything we need for those two have been cut out of magazines and marked in cook books...we are ready...we are prepared....we are....

And so, in celebration I have decided to make the conscious effort (this is NOT a resolution) to bake a loaf of bread every preparation for the week ahead.  Now...if you have been following closely you will know that yeast breads are not something I bake often...and when I do it is usually without success...however...I had an epiphany Saturday night...the dough hook on my kitchen aid...must be for...DOUGH.  click click on the internet and I found instructions for making dough in my stand mixer...easy peasy, can't go wrong!

When the dough came out of the mixer it looked like it was barely going to feed us for a day, but as it rose on the baking sheet it got wider and wider and...somewhat taller.  Next week I will put it in a 9" round cake tin to give it a better shape, and more height...and see what happens.  The important thing tasted great!! We slathered the end bits with butter and strawberry jam...a great way to toast new adventures!

Happy 2011to you all!!

comfort food at its best

If someone told me that I was only allowed to eat one dish for the rest of my life I wouldn't even have to think twice about what that would be.  Sure...I would love to eat lobster or shrimp or smoked salmon everyday for the rest of my life...but the one thing I would love the most, and miss the most if I could not have it, would be....MAC N CHEESE.  Macaroni and cheese far...the best dinner/lunch/breakfast/snack/comfort food/guilty pleasure in the world (to me anyway) and after a week of leftovers and chocolates and desserts and booze....when I should have opted for a salad....I made a KILLER mac n cheese to see us through the first couple of days of the new year.  

This wasn't a spur of the moment idea...I had planned it...sad, I know...but true.  As soon as I saw those three chunks of mystery cheese hiding on the corner of the cheese board I's a macaroni and cheese fate for you my friends! No one even nibbled the cheesese on I wrapped them back up and put them back in the fridge...and then I waited.  Waited for the turkey to be finished, waited for the bubble and squeak to be finished...waited until all that was left in the fridge was those three mystery chunks of cheese.

In truth I didn't have to wait long, by new years eve the cupboards were bare...a special trip outside (gak!) for some treats for new years eve dinner...and then, new years day....the MAC!! 

I love all kinds of mac n cheese, I love it baked, I love it soft, I love it with breadcrumbs on top, I love it with tomatoes and veggies in, I love it...from a box (Canadian delicacy)...I just love love love it. years comfort food calls for special treatment.  Normally I would just cook up the pasta and layer it in a casserole dish with shredded cheese and then pour over a bit of milk and pop it in the over (a la Grandma Kay) but with some forethought (ok...a lot of thought) and time on my hands...I made a three cheese sauce with the mystery cheese chunks, tossed the cooked pasta in that...and then into my new shallow casserole dish...topped with more mystery cheese and then...into the oven.  

Comfort at its finest :)