Friday 30 September 2011

Tofu Stir-fry

Chinese take out is probably the one take out David and I treat ourselves to regularly.  We rarely order in indian or pizza...sweet and sour chicken balls wins out every time! The stir-frys I have been making at home lately have really only been my favourite stand-by...cabbage and cashew.  This week I thought I would put a bit more effort into my chopping and made a tofu and vegetable chow mein to rival our local take out restaurant.  

What is your favourite take out order? 

Friday 23 September 2011

Spanakopita...a delicious experiment

It still amazes me how many times I find myself typing the words "I have never made a..." The great thing about this blogosphere and all the wonderful foody blogs I'm reading is that I am constantly looking for new recipes to try...classic dishes I haven't been brave enough techniques...and even new ingredients.  

Last night's supper was yet another example of all this...

First, the (original recipe) surfaced during the aftermath of the random selection for Belleau Kitchen's monthly challenge...a hastily scribbled recipe for Spinach Pie from Donna Hay's Instant Cook (I suspect I was either babysitting and having a nosey through the cookbooks...or visiting my parents) with yet another note (in a different pen colour underneath) suggesting the addition of Filo pastry...which brings me to the second point, having never baked with filo pastry before...and then thirdly, the new techniques that go along with that...damp towels, brushing melted butter, working quickly.  

In the end I totally made it up as I went along...using frozen spinach I defrosted it and squeezed all the extra water out and then added it to a sauteed chopped shallot and 4 crushed cloves of garlic, some dried oregano and some freshly chopped basil...the added in crumbled feta and a tub of ricotta...mixed it all up...seasoned (I could have eaten it right out of the bowl)...and then prepared to FILO...

Really simple salad last night, but the plan is to eat the left overs cold tonight with hot buttery new baby potatoes! 

Thursday 22 September 2011

Coastal road trip with my dad!

My dad has been visiting for the last couple of weeks and this past weekend we embarked on a loooong drive from Edinburgh to the North Norfolk coast.  

Upon our arrival at the border the weather turned foggy and rainy and miserable...but the sun came out by the time we reached North Norfolk. We ate really pie, pork belly, roast chicken, cooked breakfasts and enjoyed many a take away coffee (my dad totally spoils me).  But I think my most favourite meal was the lunch we prepared the afternoon before I came back up to Edinburgh. 

On Sunday afternoon we ate at a really nice country pub in Stiffkey, Norfolk called The Red Lion.  They serve local mussels when in season (they weren't), which I've had before...and this time...I was torn...half and lobster or fish pie? hmmmmmmmm...believe it or not....I opted for the fish pie...I wasn't sure about the lobster...well it appeared the almost every other diner was having the lobster! I felt like I had missed out, but then my dad said to me..."If lobsters are in season we can see if the crab guy around the corner has any tomorrow morning after our walk..." 

Well...there was! The fishermen had caught 3 lobsters that morning with their crab haul.  Now...Rick Stein says, in his English Seafood Cookery, that you should never buy pre-cooked lobster...he says you don't know how long they have been sitting on the counter and you don't know how long they have been cooked for.  Well...considering there is a gigantic picture of Rick Stein with the owners of the crab shack hanging on the wall of the shop...we weren't too concerned.  

Coupled with half a dressed Cromer Crab and some salad we gobbled that (lady) lobster right the sun on the back patio! What a fantastic end to a lovely September weekend.  

Thursday 15 September 2011

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge...magazines, cuttings and pullouts!

When Dom over at Belleau Kitchen announced the theme of this month's challenge I practically leapt off my chair and dumped out the basket of clippings I have waiting waiting waiting to be tried.  I love picking up those freebie magazines and leaflets at the supermarket...but more often than not they tend to lay in a pile by the sofa...collecting dust...until I feel the need for something different...and then I dust them off...and every once in a while I actually go through and cut out rip out things that might be tempting...

The thing mom lovingly does the same thing...FOR ME! She's been sending me photocopies and torn out recipes for years the pile grows and grows.  And I dumped out the basket and randomly selected my meal for the challenge...I also selectively chose 10 more recipes to fill out the rest of my two week shop...

This Sausage and Mushroom Penne Gratin recipe comes from a photocopy of Gourmet Magazine from November 2008, sent to me by my mum.  The heading reads....Gourmet Everyday Ten-Minute Mains...I'll tell you wasn't 10 mins...heck it wasn't even the 30 mins "start to finish"...and not really gourmet...but it tasted good!!  

While you cook the penne you brown some sausages (pork with caramelised onions for us...also a meat meal to satisfy my dad) sort of breaking them up as you go that you add sliced mushrooms (I used a 250g pack of white mushrooms...I think that the whole point is to use ready sliced...but you know me and chopping...) and cook those until the mushrooms are golden.  To the sausage mushroom mix you add 1 cup of double cream and some salt and pepper and let it bubble away until thick...then toss in the drained pasta, a little bit of the cooking water, 1/2 a cup of grated parmesan (I used hard goats cheese...don't tell my dad) and 1/2 a ball of mozzarella torn up into little pieces.  Mix it all up so that the sauce coasts the pasta and then tip it into a baking dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella and some parmesan (or...hard goats cheese).  That goes under the grill until bubbly and golden...

Some of the other clipping meals I'll be trying over the next week include...Carrot Lentil Soup from a recipe scribbled on a piece of kitchen roll...Minestrone of Broad Beans from what looks like maybe River Cafe Green (hand written on a piece of notepaper)...Baked Eggs with Ham and Cheese from no idea...Spinach Pie copied out of Donna Hay's Instant Cook....and Baked White fish from Delia's How to Cheat.

And always...thanks Dom for the inspiration! 

Thursday 8 September 2011

Cheese and Onion Pie

I went a bit The Good Cook mad when I planned my meals for this week...not that that is a bad thing...I like his style and most of the recipes from his last series were things I would try...and so after the success of  the tattie soup Tuesday night I clicked through to the recipe for Cheese and Onion Pie.

I'll admit right now...I didn't make my own pastry...I bought a block of ready made shortcrust pastry...I have no shame in it...have you seen the price of butter???

So...readymade pastry at hand I cooked up the onions, grated the cheese and assembled.  The preparation part was pretty easy...the putting it together part...not so much.  I found it really difficult using pastry in my cake pan...I found it difficult to get the top on properly...let alone seal it with the back of a the turned out pretty good...nothing like the picture on the website...but pretty good.

I also substituted Red Leicester cheese (that was about as "regional" it got on the internet shop selection)...which doesn't seem to get overly gooey in the oven and still has a sharpness to it.  

The pie tasted great...and the couple of slices we managed to leave were excellent cold today from the fridge.  

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Tattie Soup and a good ol' fashioned club sandwich

Brrrrrrrrrr....September has arrived and with it...wind...rain...and cold nights!  Last night, to warm us up, I  made a double batch of The Good Cook's Potato Soup put half in the freezer, a quarter into bowls and the last quarter into a container to take to work.  A pretty good streeeetch I'd say...for 2 onions, 1kg of tatties and 1.5 litres of stock...oh and the 6 rashers of bacon...

When I watched Simon Hopkinson make this soup a month or so ago I couldn't wait to try it for myself...and yesterday's weather meant that it was time to peel the tatties! The soup is easy to make, and it was simple to double.  I don't have a vegetable mill so used the stick blender to puree it so the texture was pretty thin...but still tasty.  To season the soup you fry some bacon, leave it to boil in the soup broth and then remove it from the soup before blending.  I decided to crisp the rashers up in a skillet and then made club sandwiches using the left over roast chicken from the weekend....a pretty budget friendly meal.  

Saturday 3 September 2011

Veggie burgers...and a moment to relax

Last night we managed to have a moment to relax in between visitors and work and our other commitments.  Friday nights at our little pad is normally reserved for a pizza party or burger night...our schedule has been a little out of whack lately with guests and stuff so last night it was a welcome treat to return to normal...except for the running around trying to hang out bedding to dry, tidying and general catching up on other chores...

I am slightly finishes at 12:45 on a Friday, allowing me some "me" time to catch up on some tv I've missed during the week that David isn't interested in...some knitting...and giving me the time to actually take my time to prepare dinner.  Not that last night's dinner needed much time to prepare...

I've been searching for a good go-to Veggie burger for a while...I often just grill giant portobello mushrooms with some garlic, thyme, oil and vinegar...but after Sue's Soyburger Post last month I've been craving a proper beany chunky burger.  I searched as hard as I could manage to find dried soy beans, with no luck (there are two organic markets I need to try when I have the time)...but remembered I had bookmarked the incredible looking Ultimate Veggie Burger post over at 101 cookbooks...ages ago...

I've settled for chickpeas this time around...but am determined to find those evasive soy beans for the next time.  

Using both recipes as inspiration and guidance I whipped up a batch of 8 burgers in no time...6 wrapped and popped into the freezer and 2 chilled until it was time to EAT! I used 2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed...I don't have a food processor (yet) so I whizzed up one tin with my stick blender and kept the other tin of chickpeas those I added 4 eggs, about 3/4 of a cup of breadcrumbs ( i just kept adding them until it seemed like the right consistency), one giant carrot grated, 1 red onion chipped finely and a huge handful of chopped coriander and chopped basil....oh and some salt and cayenne pepper.  The mixture was wet, but I was really happy with the end result.

Slathered with mayo and topped with lettuce, avocado and sauteed mushrooms this burger totally hit the spot! No buns this time around...owing to a disastrous internet shop (itty bitty buns instead of burger sized!).  Served with crinkle cut oven chips this burger was a great, and indulgent, way to end the week.

Our next guests arrive in 3 hours....