Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 30th, 2007

I received this lovely award from Fiona over at The Cottage Smallholder Thanks Fiona!!! And if I could I would award it right back to her for being so Nice!!!!
I guess I have to pass it along too so I would like to pass it along to Cynthia at Tastes Like Home For all the nice comments she leaves me and others.
And also to Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen - English version for being so nice in not doing one blog but two!!! One in English for us that cannot speak Portugese and for being so nice too!!!
If I could I think I would give this award to everyone that visits here as you all have been so nice and leave lovely comments.

Sad isn't it!!!!

With it just being Hubby, myself and the cats, sometimes I get to have my lunch in front of the computer. I opted for a ploughmans on this occasion. Which basically is bread and cheese with a bit of fruit and veg and usually pickled onions and some Branston pickles. I wanted to have it with my own pickles this time. Now for some strange reason pickles don't go overly well with wine. We do eat most of our evening meals down stairs though at the kitchen table. Usually with the telly on and more than not watching a cooking show.

I felt like having a curry.
Sometimes you just get hungry for something and since we have been more or less stuck at home with Brian's shingles we haven't been out for an Indian curry in ages. So I thought I would make one at home.
First rub salt and Paprika all over your chicken. I used three skinned chicken thighs.
Next in a food processor blend together 1/2 cup water, 1 roughly chopped onion, 5 to 6 cloves of garlic,1 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped, 1 tsp ground tumeric, 2 tablespoons of garam masala, 1 tablespoon groupnd coriander(cilantro), 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder to a smooth paste. Fry your paste in 3 tablespoons of oil for about 10 minutes stirring often.
Add 2 cups of chickenstock and cook for 5 minutes.

Then mix in 3 tablespoons of sour cream and 1/2 cup natural plain yogurt and mix well. Bring just to the boil and then take off the heat. I only used 1/2 the mixture for the chicken the other half I used to make a vegetable curry...... Rub this mix all over the chicken. I also cut three slits into the chicken down to the bone to help it to cook more evenly and to soak up more of the flavour. Cover with foil and bake at 200 C for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 180 and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and has browned.

To the other 1/2 of mix I started off with some chopped onion in a frying pan and a bit of oil. Fry just till they turn brown. Then add two roughly chopped potatoes and the head of 1 cauliflower broken into florets. Add the reserved 1/2 of curry sauce and 1 pkt of cocoanut cream. To this I added about 6 broken cardamon seeds and bring to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender.... And then add in some frozen peas and bring back to a simmer. (I had to add some mixed veg as I was out of frozen peas). That is what cooking is about sometimes improvising.

I cooked up some basmati rice.... Place in the serving dish.

And top with the vegetable curry and then the chicken thighs.

And there you go a very easy curry for two and then leftovers for breakfast the next day for me!! YUM!!!

Quick British Summer is finally here!!!
Well this past weekend we finally saw a bit of summer!!! And Brian was finally feeling up to having a BBQ. So out comes our little weber grill and the charcoal. I can't remember if it was last year or the year before we discovered the instant light bags of charcoal!! We have had pretty good luck with these. So on the grill goes a bag ready to be lit when I give the word. So we set up the patio table and get out the umbrella and Brian sits with a book and a glass of wine while I whiz around the kitchen preparing for a long awaited summer feast.
First I get the steaks marinating. Two sirloins. You must have fat with your steaks in order to have flavour, you just don't have to eat the extra fat around the steak. Cut it off afterwards and leave it. Anyway take two nice steaks.... Place in a bowl with a good splash of olive oil and red wine. Some chopped up garlic and some chopped dried oregano and thyme. I sometimes add chopped fresh rosemary too. Let them marinade turning ever so often while you prepare the other dishes.

Next was the veggies. Here take a double piece of heavy duty foil and in the centre put a good sloosh of olive oil. Then top with sliced potatoes, chopped onion, sliced and chopped red pepper and some fresh herbs and garlic chopped. Mix together and make sure they are coated in a bit of the oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Then fold up on two sides to make like a pocket. Right before sealing the third side add a sloosh of white wine and seal. Packet ready for the BBQ.

Next was the salad. I took some fresh baby spinach leaves and placed in a bowl, added some chopped red onion, thin slices of red pepper, some sliced strawberries, crumbled feta cheese and some chopped walnut halves. And then made a nice creamy honey mustard vinagrette to go with it.

Told Brian we were ready so he lights the bbq!!

One final preparation is I take some onions and cut into thirds widthwise and drizzle with some olive oil. Brian is keeping a close eye on the barbie for me.

Oh almost forgot I made a bit of a corn salad to go with the bbq too..... Take some sweet corn, chopped onion, chopped red pepper and some chopped parsely, toss with a tarragon vinegrette.
Once your fire is ready put on the packet of veg and cook for a good 1/2 hour turning frequently. Then the steaks go on for about 1 to 3 minutes per side depends on the heat of the fire, the thickness of the steaks and how you like them. Cook the onion slices with the steaks.

Pickles and some beet root to round it all off.

And now feast time!!! Served a nice bourdeux with the meal and a nice cold crisp sauvignon blanc while watching the fire start and the veggies cook.

Brian and I both enjoyed the steaks!!! Jingles did too!!!

Jingles asking for more.
Well a feast isn't complete without a dessert. I had some lovely vanilla ice cream in the freezer and thought I had always wanted to try the grilled bananas I have seen others do on the telly. So here was my chance. Take a piece of foil. I used the outside piece from the veggies(a bit of recycling) and put your banana inside this. Cut a slit in the banana and spread apart and fill with some chocolate chips. Wrap tightly in the foil. And put on the grill for about 10 to 15 minutes turning a few times.

This was gorgeous!!!!!!! The hot custardy bananas went well with the cool vanilla ice cream!!

The next day we had another bbq!! This time with homemade potato salad and bake beans.

Take a large can of bake beans or two small cans place in a baking dish. Add a good slug of ketchup, about a tablespoon of prepared mustard(your choice I used hot dog mustard) 1/2 chopped onion or more, about 1 to 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and since I have recently found smoked paprika about 2 teaspoons of this. Mix well and then cover and microwave for about 5 minutes on high. Remove from microwave and place in a 180 C oven uncovered for about 1/2 hour. Can add crisp fried bacon or some chunks of ham if you like and have some around. Great served cold the next day on sandwiches.

Served up with grilled hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs on homemade buns.

And Yes Jingles cleaned his plate again!!!

Patricia over at Technicolor Kitchen in English Cooked up some lovely looking Herb Ricotta Cannelloni the other day. And they just looked sooooooooo yummy I wanted to have a go. So I sorta followed her recipe, but wanted meat in mine. So I took a pack of lamb mince and fried it off with a finely chopped onion, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, about 2 tsp of oregano, a good scraping of fresh nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Once that was fried up and drained I added 1/2 packet of fresh baby spinach and fried until it was wilted down. Put this into a bowl and added about 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and 1 container of riccota cheese, some freshly grated parmesan and about 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese.

Mixed it all up with about 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.

Take your fresh lasagne sheets and soak in boiling water for 5 minutes. Then on a clean tea towl dry them off on both sides.

And with two spoons put your lamb mixture down one edge like so.

Then roll up like so...

Place into a baking dish that has first been oiled and with a little tomato sauce covering the base.

Until you have as many as you can fit into the dish. Mine made enough for 6 cannelloni.

cover with sauce and bake at 180 C for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Take out of the oven and cover with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and put back in for another 10 miutes until browned.

Thanks Patricia the cannelloni was really delicious and I will definately be making this again. Served with a fresh salad and crusty bread.

Monday, August 20, 2007

August 23rd, 2007

A big thanks to Linda over at In My Canadian Garden blog for this lovely surprise!!! It is going to be difficult to choose who to pass it along to, as there are so many talented bloggers I have gotten to know lately!!! So these are the ones I have decided to bestow this honour on...although there are several more that are worthy of it also!!!
Fiona at The Cottage Smallholder She has such a creative way with words and such a lovely garden and Mrs. Boss and the Keets!!
Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything Very creative chef!!! The photos make my mouthwater and I just can't wait to try the recipes.
Amanda at The Little Foodies Very creative in how she is teaching Little and Small about food and the different cultures of the world we live in. And a lovely garden too!!
Nettie at Nettie Is a long time pal that is very creative in an artistic way!

The Garden
Our little garden is producing some food for our table, not enough to preserve, but enough to enjoy some simple little pleasures!!!

A few years ago my stepson and his partner bought us a fig tree for a present. It was a tiny little stick of a plant. We tried growing it in the conservatory where it wasn't very happy. It would get little figlets on and then they would all fall off before developing into much. Well we finally stuck it outside in a pot near a wall for protection and I give it loads of water and this year we have been blessed with two figs!!! And it now has lots of little figlets on there at the moment. They are soooooo delicious and sweet and I served them as the crowning glory to a lovely goats cheese salad.

Besides the Fig, these are some of the other veggies our little garden has produced for the table. The mini carrots I grew in a pot on our patio, the potatoes in a potato barrel, the tomatoes in a growbag, the beans are in a huge trough like planter(which next year I hope to house some sweetcorn with the beans) and the courgette I grew in pots this year also. It may not seem like alot, but for our tiny garden. It is quite amazing the variety I am finding I can grow in pots. I can't wait till next year now to try even more veggies!!!

Blogging Events
Being fairly new to this blogging craze I am just starting to understand blogging events.
Michelle over at Je Mange la Ville was participating in an event for Remembering Julia Childs on August 8th. I remember this lady back when I lived in the US. She was so funny, much like Fanny Craddock over here in Britian. There would be lots of dramatics and the occasional accident and a bottle of wine would disappear in no time. I always got such a kick out of watching her and the dishes she prepared. Michelle cooked a recipe from one of Julia's books and I thought I would also give it a go. Not only was it a fitting tribute to Julia, it reminded me of a trip Brian and I had to Brugge. Sitting outside a little cafe watching the horse drawn buggies and tourists go by. Brugge is such a lovely city that we both really love visiting when we get the chance.The recipe is for Waterzooi. It is a bit of a cross between a soup and a stew and has such a lovely flavour from the tarragon. I can highly recommend it!!! Waterzooi

Waterzooi is a combination of celery, carrots, leeks and onion,surrounding a breast of chicken in a flavoursome tarragon broth. I can still taste it now!!YUM!!!!

The weather has been rather autumnal here lately and I am not sure but it starts me wanting to prepare for winter and hibernation. So I have this strong urge to preserve food. When I lived in the US and had my huge garden it seemed like I was spending the whole summer canning green beans, freezing vegetables, making jams and jellies and making pickles. Since moving over here I have found that it is very hard to get the equipment for putting food by. No giant pressure cookers or canning jars with removable lids. Instead there are kilner jars. Now I trusted the company that made the glass jars at home to make sure their glass wouldn't break during the processes of high pressure and temperatures, but these jars here have me a bit unsure if they can withstand such processes. So I have almost given up putting food by. But sometimes I just get hungry for things from my past and this is one of those times. So while Brian was watching the football match on telly (he supports Liverpool) I made myself some Bread and Butter Pickles. I cut the recipe in half as I didn't want to be eating them for a whole year.

Bread and Butter Pickles (the whole recipe)

Slice 1 gallon cucumbers, 8 medium onions, 2 green peppers(capsiums) and place into a large bowl or container that will hold them all. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup salt. Add 1 quart of cracked ice and 1 cup cold water. Mix together and let stand 3 hours.
Mix together in as large a pan as possible I use my large soup pan:
5 cups of vinegar
5 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp. celery seed
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves (or less)
Heat this to boiling. Drain your vegetables and add to the vinegar mixture.

Heat to boiling and boil for 5 minutes. Pack into hot pint jars and process 10 minutes in a water bath. Makes about 7 pints.

I only had two rather large cucumbers and I used about 5 onions as I love the onions better than the cucumbers in this. Cut all your other ingredients in half and I would say to take th sugar down to just 2 cups. Maybe my tastes are changing but it was rather sweet. And I ended up with one rather large kilner jar of lovely pickles!!These would be great served with a lovely ploughmans lunch!

I was going to try the stew recipe for supper that night, but by the time Football had finished and the pickles were done it was rather late so I decided to whip up an impromptu supper of a Brie and veggie tart. First take some Puff pastry and spread into a baking tray prick the base so it doesn't rise too much. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Then top with some tomato puree and some slices of Brie. Then some sauteed onion, chopped garlic and courgettes. Add some fresh tomato slices and a sprinkling of Oregano and some pine kernals. And bake till crisp and bubbling.

The newest gadget to enter my kitchen is a timer. On the old cooker we had a rather loud one and the new cooker for my aging ears isn't all that loud. So I thought I would invest in a seperate timer. That way if I decide to leave something baking in the oven and go work somewhere else in the house, I can take the timer with me. It has a cute ring, much like the old telephones used to make.

Another Gadget that I inherited since moving here was Brian's first wifes Crockpot. It is very very retro!!! And not a thing wrong with it. I even have the manual that goes with it. So I have delegated it a place on my countertops so that I will use it more.

So when David over at Book the Cook posted his recipe for Stifado I thought I would give it a try and use the crockpot. I reduced my sauce down a bit on the hob, as when you use a crockpot the sauce doesn't boil down like on the hob or in the oven. I can definately recommend David's recipe it was delicious!!

I did change one little thing in that the tiny little carrots that I grew in pots on my patio, I added these to the stew, thinking that they desereved to be cooked in a great recipe.

Brian enjoyed it as much as I did and only requested maybe not so much mint ontop next time. It was really really Yummy!!! Thanks David!!!

More Zucchini!!
Okay a couple of weeks ago I made some Zucchini Banana nut bread and was hoping that Linda's son Elliot would enjoy it, but he wouldn't give it a go. I think he guessed we were up to something. So I decided okay I will get sneeky. This time I made some Cookies and some Brownies using Zucchini. I haven't heard back whether he has tried them yet or not. But I do know that Linda, Naomi(her daughter), Brian and I really like them both!!! So here are the recipes for you to try...

Zucchini Drop Cookies from Cookin' with Maudie (one of my Amish cookbooks)
1 cup zucchini, peeled and grated
1 cup white sugar(granulated)
1 egg
1/2 tsp cloves (ground)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup rasins
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate)
1/2 cup butter or Crisco
2 cup flour (plain)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Beat sugar and butter till creamy, add in the zucchini pulp and mix together. Add flour and remaining dry ingredients. Mix in raisins. Drop onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or till done. Frost or eat plain. (we are eating plain!!) YUM

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped nuts(optional)
Mix together in a bowl and then add
1/4 cup oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 cups grated zucchini.
Mix using a wooden spoon until moistened. Pour into a well greased 9x13 inch baking tin. Bake at 180 C for 25 minutes. Cool before cutting.
Now I did make some changes to this recipe... because it seemed too dry. I added 1 egg and some milk until it was moistened. Also I added on another 5 minutes to the cooking time.

These aren't overly sweet. but they are very very moorish!!!! And you know what? You wouldn't have a clue that you were eating your veg in them either!!!!

Late breaking update...... He loved them!!!! Have checked to see if he likes beets..... .....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

August 18th, 2007 part two

Do you ever have one of those nights where you change your mind on what you were going to cook, because you just want something hot and fast and comforting??? I sliced some courgettes(zucchini) onion, red pepper and fennel; stirfried for a until crisp tender, threw in some chopped tinned tomatoes that actually now come out of a box, bit of chopped garlic, some herbs had some penne pasta on the boil, then tossed all together and put into a baking dish and covered with some cheddar and into the oven. YUM!!!! Quick and delicious!!! Recipe can be varied according to mood and ingredients on hand.

These are the rolls for the next couple of days! They are a bit wholemeal with sunflower seeds. Love the breadmaker!!!!
Now for something exciting and yummy!!!

One of the blogs I visit everyday to read is Haalo's Cook (almost) Anything blog. It is the most gorgeous Banana Upside down cake recipe!!!

First I made the carmel bit with butter and dark brown sugar....

Lined a cake tin with baking parchement and buttered it.

Then the caramel went in and the bananas all in neat little rows...

Then all the cake ingredients went into a large bowl and were whipped up with a mixer. I did make one alteration to the recipe. I added vanilla extract to the batter mix.

Cake batter ontop of the bananas

Baked for about 40 minutes checking after 20 and then each 10 minute afterwards.

And this is what you end up with!!!!!!!! Ohhhhhhhh yummy!!!
But I had to fix supper first....

So thanks to my Friend Linda for her lovely allotment grown carrots and to Jamie Oliver for the recipe..... Carrots peeled and cut in half lengthways. 1 orange cut in half and then into chunks. Water and some herbs... bayleaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley...and three whole garlic cloves in their skins. Boil till almost tender then into a roasting pan the drained carrots and oranges and take one of the garlic cloves and squeeze over with some olive oil and roast in the oven.

Then on with the other part of the meal.... Thanks to Aldo Zilli and Linda again and our local Fish Monger.
This is Roast Cod with Caponata.

Take 1 aubergine and chop into small dice. Toss with some flour and salt and pepper. In a large frying pan or non stick wok heat a little olive oil and fry half the aubergine for about 5 minutes drain on kitchen paper. Fry the other half.

Two onions chopped about the same size as the Aubergine and fry that afterwards for about 3 minutes....

Add 1 chopped courgette and 1 stalk of celery chopped and fry for another few minutes add the aubergine back into the pan along with some chopped tinned plum tomatoes, some olives, garlic, oregano, capers and 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a dash of red wine.
Take 4 cod fillets and lightly flour and season, panfry for 2 minutes per side. Put the caponata mix into a baking dish and top with the cod fillets topped with a sprig of rosemary. Bake for about 10 minutes at 200 C until cod is to your liking.

Thanks for the really lovely meal last night everyone involved it was really delicious!!!
Oh and the dessert!!!

I can't wait!!!! Served the slices of Banana cake with some lovely vanilla ice cream and dig in!!!

It even had Jingles hungry for some!!!!

Poor Brian had a fight on his hands it was sooooooooo yummy!!!!
So the last big thanks goes to Haalo!!