Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24th 2007

Sorry gang, cooking is taking a break for a bit. Busy doing a bit of DIY and just having quick type of meals here. Will be back real soon!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

July 13th 2007

Ohhhhhhh Friday the 13th!!! Hmm didn't realize it until I went to write this blog. Not really supersticious here, but find the number 13 actually lucky for me as that is the day my twin sons were born. I don't think it was on a Friday though.
It has been a bit of a busy week here. Cooking and gardening. The poor Courgettes that I was sooooo counting on have been hit by Mildew from all the weird weather we have been having.

We got some stuff from the garden centre and are trying to save the plants. We are also cutting off any infected leaves and hope that this will work. So far so good...

Recipes from France
Every time we take a coach trip to France or Belgium or visit another country I pick up some cooking magazines. I attempt (sometimes very badly) to translate the recipes. Some you can just about look at and figure out the way it should be cooked or what the ingredients are. I have had one or two successes in the past, but this wasn't one of them.

The recipe is for Cod fillets to be baked on some Courgette strips. You take some courgettes and using a vegetable peeler cut it into long strips. Overlapping the strips as shown. Then place on the piece of cod and some lemon zest, chopped red pepper sprinkle on some salt and pepper and sesame seed. Well I thought hmmmm maybe a little sesame oil would be nice. Nope don't do it!!! It is too harsh for the fish. I think next time I would prefer garlic and some onion, maybe a bit of parmesan....

Any way you wrap up the fish and sprinkle on more sesame seeds and chopped pepper and then a good splash of white wine and lemon juice. Bake in the oven ummm 180 for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I served it with some fried potatoes and mixed veg done in the microwave, some tomato salad and some lemon slices. It wasn't really horrible, but just not as nice as it looks if you see what I mean. I will try it again, but will do a bit of my own thing next time adding the garlic, some oregano and onion to the dish. I am still trying hard to learn to like eating fish so I do try to use strong flavours with my fish.

My next edible failure was a savoury cake recipe. I can read and understand some of the ingredients and measurements okay, but when it comes to some of the actual terms for the cooking techniques. Well this is where I have a bit of a problem. But then again I learn from each and every mistake.

The batter looked good and it is one that uses yeast.
And then here is where the problem came in.... The courgettes, they are supposed to be grated and I know the french term for that is rape, but it was what I was supposed to do once I had grated the Courgettes that the problem started. Courgettes are mostly water..... And what I should have done was grate them and then drain them as they made the cake way too moist after it baked. I will know better next time.

Anyway, you add courgettes, chopped ham and grated swiss(emmental) Cheese to the batter and then bake. Here again I am learning about my new cooker. It seems I have a fan oven that doesn't work like the old fan oven. The old one I would have to take the temperature down by at least 10 degrees and keep an eye on the time as it would cook in a lot shorter time. Nope not this new cooker, the fan assist on it seems to cook very very gently and where I used to turn the temp down I now turn it up. Also for the last 10 minutes I am finding I take it off fan assist and use the normal oven setting to get things to brown.

So it was a bit on the flat and very dense extra extra moist side. It was still edible and I will be trying this again. Once I perfect the end results I will publish my recipe.

Red Currants

Now on the other hand all this rain has been excellent for my red Currant bush. So much so, that I have gone onto the internet in search of recipes for using them. I came across this lovely tart.
Red Currant Tart
It is very quick and a very pretty way to use the little gems!!! Brian ate 3 pieces the first night and it was polished off the next night. So I think it was a hit.

We are having my Stepson and his lovely lady coming over for lunch in a week or so and I always like to fix something new for them and show off a bit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I have one limitation and that is no dairy. My step son is dairy intollerant. So I try to find different things I can use instead. He can have goats milk, soya milk and margarines that don't contain dairy, so actually I am not that limited in my cooking. It is a bit of a challenge to come up with something he can have. They both love fish and are the reason I am trying hard to learn to like eating fish. And since I have gotten to know them and the meals we have had together I have learnt to like cod, sword fish, fresh tuna, monk fish, halibut, white crab meat(still not too keen on the brown meat), prawns and langostines. Not bad for someone that wouldn't eat any fish when she first arrived here in Britian almost 11 years ago.
So for our starter I have decided on this recipe that I found in Prue Leith's Cookery Bible. It is for Avacado Mousse with prawns. And as normal I can't leave well enough alone.
I cut the recipe into half for Brian and I to try before I fixed it for my guests. I used goats milk yogurt instead of greek and when the day comes I will be adding some white crab meat to the mousse mixture. The prawns now are my own recipe.

I will give you my version of the recipe and if you want the original let me know and I can email it to you.
Prue 's Avacado Mousse...
8 grams or 1/2 packet of powdered gelatine
1 ripe avacado
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1/2 cup /1/4 pint /145ml goat's milk yogurt.
Ligtly oil two small ramekins. Put 3 Tablespoons of water into a small sauce pan and sprinkle over the gelatine powder. Leave for about 5 minutes until spongy. Peel and mash the avacado until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to the avacado. (I think this is where I will be adding some white crab meat. I guess you could also used some small prawns or chopped up bigger ones too.) Place the gelatine over a lowish heat until liquid and clear. Then stir into the avacado mix. Fold in the yogurt using a metal spoon. Pour into prepared ramekins and refrigerate till set. Dip the ramekins into very hot water to help unmold. I turned mine out onto a bed of lettuce leaves topped with the prawns and served with some cherry tomato halves.
(These could be made the day ahead.)

Now for the Prawns. Her recipe calls for prawns in a french dressing. This is my own recipe for the Prawn part of the dish.
Take about 4 or 5 large prawns per person, I used frozen cooked large tiger prawns. Thaw and devein. Then add to a small bowl the prawns some finely chopped red pepper(capsium) about a tablespoon or so, same amount of chopped onion, spring onion would be nice. A dash of dried chili flakes, or finely chopped hot chili pepper, not too much unless you like it hot. Zest and juice of 1 lime. Honey to taste. 1 Tablespoon olive oil or you can use rape seed oil. A splash of white wine, any that happens to be open or that you are drinking at the time. Let this all marinate for about an hour. Serve the prawns over the mousse, drizzling some of the marinade liquid over the lettuce leaves.
Enjoy!!! Serve with some wholegrain crackers or some nice crusty bread.
Brian and I both enjoyed it last night. We found it quite fresh tasting and really yummy!!! Hopefully so will my stepson and his young lady. I can't wait to try it with the crab meat addition.

Leftovers Challenge
Okay I decied on Wednesday to roast a whole chicken. A lovely treat especially mid week. The cats start to hang around when it reaches a certain point in the oven when the aroma of the roasting chicken makes it's way through the whole house. Jingles will almost become aggressive as he waits in the kitchen beside his bowl for his share of the chicken. Cheeky on the other hand sometimes will eat it and sometimes won't. He is a very strange cat at times when it comes to food. Jingles is definately my foodie cat. He will sometimes sit and watch me cook. He does try different things too. Silly cat!!!
Anyway, what I want to know is how others use the leftovers. I sometimes make chicken soup, and definatley have chicken sarnies for a day or two. And Jingles enjoys the occasional tidbit that comes his way. And sometimes I make a chicken casserole like the one below.

So how do you use leftovers???? I would love to know and also would love to try new and different recipes for using leftover chicken. So if you could either post them on the comments, email me or post on your blog I would be ever so grateful!!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 5th 2007

My new friend at Little Foodies blogspot was asking about what to cook as they were learning about America and with yesterday being the 4th of July.... I had mentioned Southern Fried Chicken and boy did their chicken make my mouth water. I remember when we would be having picnics and how my mom and my grandmother would be frying chicken in big huge skillets. And the lovely smell of the chicken frying and the poping of the hot fat sizzling away. And if I was lucky I would be allowed to pinch a bit of the brown crunchy bit to gobble down hungrily. I could hardly wait for the picnic as the tables would be laden with fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad and all sorts of salads and vegetables like corn on the cob and juicy fresh tomatoes, then there would be desserts.... My grandma was excellent at making pies.... we would have chocolate, butterscotch and lemon merringue pies and then there would always be a banana cream pie too and the fruit pies.... Apple, cherry, blueberry and peach.... The whole family would get together with kids running and screaming and playing and having a great time the men would all be huddled together in one area drinking a beer and the women would be together laying the tables with all the food and chatting. I do miss those times when we would all get together to have fun and enjoy good home cooked food. So thanks Amanda for reminding me of one of the foods that brings back fond memories of my life.


I am getting better at this smoothie making.. This one was really yummy!!!
Into the blender went some fresh blue berries and red raspberries some frozen fruits of the forest mixed fruit, a fresh peach chopped into chunks, a banana sliced, some strawberry yogurt, ice cubes and some orange juice ohhhhh and some fresh from the garden red currants. Very nice, but you did need to watch out and not bite down on a currant pip.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Fudgies
Talking about being nostalgic... here is another recipe that brings back lovely memories.... I used to make this for the boys when they were growing up. (Actually I think it was more for me than it was for them, but used them as a good excuse to make them.) They are quick and easy to make and very very bad for you, except for the oats and the fruit if you add that. Guess maybe there is a bit of calcium from the milk and butter and protein from the peanut butter. So maybe they aren't that bad after all..... and isn't chocolate supposed to be a super food???

2 cups sugar/400 grams granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk/125 ml
1/2 cup butter /113.5 grams
1/2 cup peanut butter/113.5 grams
2 cups of porridge oats the kind that are whole round flake things. (I won't give this to you in grams as it will vary and I think you will need to pour in a bit more so use a large mug)
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and cocoa powder and mix together kind of getting rid of some of the cocoa lumps.

Next add in the milk and stir till it is a smooth paste.

Add the butter.

Now bring to the boil over high heat. Once boiling turn down to a rolling boil and stirring all the time for 2 minutes. (this is important make sure it is a good boil for 2 minutes) But don't let it over boil.

Remove from the heat and working kind of quickly stir in the peanut butter and the oats. If the mixture looks a bit wet add more oats but don't put too many in or they won't hold together and you will have chocolate covered muesli.

Drop by teaspoon fulls onto waxed paper or a silicon sheet. Cool thoroughly. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Now you can vary these a little by what you add to them. I like raisins or sultanas in mine and you can add nuts, marshmallows at the very end or dried fruit bits or???

Enjoy!!!!!!! Recipe can be cut down in half if you are really watching your weight.

Other dishes....
Some of my other dishes this past week have been.....
Rhubarb Crumble thanks to my friend Linda for the lovely Rhubarb!!!
A tip for all you crumble fans out there... while making the crumble bit add a bit of vanilla extract or fresh vanilla or some vanilla sugar to the crumble part. Ohhhhh was it ever nice!!!!

Brian and I ate it with some lovely vanilla ice cream that comes from Scotland. The only ice cream here that I really like.

I also made some Pistou soup. It is a bit like bean soup and minestrone mixed together. And very very garlicky!!!

And to go with the soup I made some French sticks which we then made Garlic toast as if the soup wasn't Garlicky enough.

And my courgette plants were still producing an abundance of male flowers so.... we had some more deep fried goats cheese and spinach stuffed flowers this week. The poor plants aren't doing so hot now with all the rain we have had lately. I have a major case of mildew on them at the moment. Trying to clear it up, but not sure how it will go.

And another lovely garlicky meal was some quick roasted vegetable pasta.