Sunday, January 27, 2008

February3rd, 2008

I am really sorry for not updating sooner. But I have been a bit busy and in a bit of a slump in cooking. I haven't really had alot of time to try out any new recipes, so I have been making some of my old standbys lately. While there is nothing wrong with old standbys, some of which are recipes you use over and over again because they are good and you have perfected it to just how you like them to taste.
Tuna Casserole is one of my fav standbys for when I am busy doing other things or when I don't feel much like cooking. It is a recipe that will change with my mood and the ingredients on hand.
The basics for this dish is Tuna. Every other ingredient may well change like I said according to my mood or what is on hand. Most often than not I use pasta for the casserole, but sometimes it may contain rice. Which ever you use it will need to be cooked first.
So start with the pasta or rice in a large bowl, followed by the drained tin of Tuna, (you could make it with Chicken if you like and sometimes I do, but then it becomes a Chicken casserole. I guess even the Tuna isn't the main ingredient!!! hmmmmmm)
Then in go the other ingredients.....
A tin of Cambells Cream of mushroom soup(could use Cream of chicken, celery, etc)
Rinse tin out with 1 tin of milk
Chopped Celery, and chopped onion and mushrooms (these can either be sauteed first or if you like a bit of bite then as they are)
The next is peas or sweet corn or a bit of both. Or you could even use some broccoli florets.
Cheese is next, and inside the mix I usually use cubes of cheese. In the US I enjoyed Colby cheese, but here in the UK I either use Cheddar or Red Leister. Lancashire might also be nice.
Give a good mix and season with herbs...... Again your choice. Usually mine will contain a mix of thyme, oregano, and garlic, salt just a pinch and some fresh ground black pepper.
Place into your baking dish and then top with some crushed up potatoe chips (crisps for the Brits) and some grated cheese. Into a 180 C oven for about 30 to 45 minutes. Then enjoy!!!!

I would be interested in finding out what you put in your Tuna/Chicken Casserole that makes it your special comfort dish.

Brussel Sprouts.... This has been the year of the sprout in our household. Usually I am lucky to get poor Brian to eat even one and this year he has had them every conceivable way I could think of to cook them. (I haven't done a dessert with them and don't think I will be going there either.) The latest recipe using the nutritious sprout was a soup. You start off sauteeing some chopped bacon until crisp and set this aside. In the drippings left from the bacon you then sautee some thinly sliced sprouts and onion just until transparent. (Don't let it go further and ignore all phone calls at this time as if you don't they turn bitter. Yes I have learnt my lesson!!!!)
Next goes in some chicken stock or you could use vegetable stock. And a chopped up potatoe to add body. Once the potatoe is cooked then blitz with a hand blender and add some double cream. Season to taste. Heat just through and serve with the bacon and possibly more cream.

Another of my stand bys lately is how I cook fresh fish. Since I am trying hard to help Brian and I to eat more fish, this recipe is always yummy and quick to do.

First skin and de bone the fish. Could be cod, plaice, Halibut or our latest find Haddock. Place some olive oil into your baking dish and then the fish.

Next sautee off some onions just till translucent in a bit of olive oil along with some chopped rosemary(I have two rather lovely bushes growing in the garden so always have plenty of fresh rosemary to use) and some chopped garlic. Add some Bread crumbs and sautee just a bit longer. You can add some lemon zest to this mix too or some oregano and some juice of the lemon.

Now spread the crumb mix over the fish and bake in the oven at about 180 for 20 or so minutes till the fish is how you like it cooked and the crumb is just browned.

Another fav is chunky oven Chips that Brian likes to have on occasions. Take some olive oil into a baking tin. Then add some chunky potatoe chips. I coat the potatoes in the oil. Bake for about 20 minutes then take out and turn the chips. Add some rosemary and some garlic cloves. These can either be whole or sliced depending on how strong you want your garlic. Then back in the oven for another 20 minutes. This is when I put the fish in. And there you have A little healthier version of Fish and Chips.

And you can't have Fish and Chips without Tartare sauce!!! Well I ran out of my fav storebought stuff the last meal we had with fish and chips so I thought why not try to make some. I had all the ingredients for a change. Capers, Gherkins etc.......


I took 1/2 cup mayonaise and added about 4 teaspoons of chopped rinsed capers, and about the same amount of chopped gherkin. Then added in some dried dill weed and chopped parsely. And a splash of my homemade tarragon vinegar (this is dead easy to make yourself and oooooooo so yummy) and a pinch of sugar. That is it. And Brian gave me the thumbs up and said it was much better than the stuff we buy in the jar. So guess I will be making my own Tartare sauce from now on.
Tarragon vinegar.
Take a clean bottle and fill with white distilled vinegar. (you can add a splash of white wine if you like for added flavour)
And then add some clean fresh tarragon leaves. Let sit for at least a month. Strain off and replace the vinegar to the bottle and add some more fresh tarragon leaves.
This vinegar is really lovely in vinegrettes and just sprinkled on salads and such. I even add it to potato salad.
You should try your hand at making flavoured vinegars as they are easy and add so much more depth to your recipes.


Emiline said...

I think the casserole looks good.
Unfortunately, growing up, my mom never allowed mayonnaise in the house.
How nutty is that?
Anyway, so I haven't had a lot of casseroles and salads.

We did eat brussel sprouts, though. I like em'.

MildredMittens said...

Hi Pat, if you fancy making mayonnaise I would recommend Nigella's method (it is in How To Eat Book, and probably online somewhere). The secret is to add the oil drop by single drop to begin with! I use about 2 thirds sunflower oil to a third light olive oil. It really is divine!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

My first boyrfriend's mum used to make a chicken casserole that she put crisps and cheese on the top. It was absolutely delicious and I loved it. Thank you for reminding me about it. I'm going to have to try making it.

The homemade tartare sauce sounds really good and love the idea of healthy fish and chunky chips. Yum!

Pat said...

Thanks all.
Emiline it tasted lovely. That is why I make it over and over again. Lovely Comfort food.
Hmmmm not sure I could do without mayonaise. I always have a spare jar in the cupboard. I am learning to like the sprouts.

Hi Mildred, I did try once to make it. Think I used too much olive oil as that was the predominate flavour. I will give it a go again and see how I get on and do as you suggest using Sunflower oil.

Hi Amanda. The classics are always tasty. The Crisps and cheese just seem to add that bit extra. Brian and I are always fighting over who gets the top. :) The Tartare sauce was yummy!!! And so was the Fish and chunky Chips.

Crafty Gardener said...

Your tuna casserole sounds like mine, but it is a dish that I don't make that often, as it is really only me that likes it.
I have discovered roasted brussel sprouts. I love roasted veggies - parsnips, turnip, carrots, celery sweet potato - cut up and tossed in some olive oil and roasted for about 30 minutes or until tender. A friend recommended adding brussels and we just love them that way ... a whole different taste. Depending on how big the sprouts are I usually quarter them and mix in with all the other veggies.

Pat said...

Thanks Linda!!! I could eat the whole casserole myself I love Tuna casserole. But glad Brian does too. Thanks too for the tip about the sprouts I may give that a go.

Cynthia said...

Ah ha! Brian is a man after my own heart. I love chunky oven fries too :)

I've missed you.

Pat said...

Thanks Cynthia!!!

Kelly-Jane said...

I did a crisp topped casserole last year for the first time and loved it!

Hope all is well with you :)

Pat said...

Hi Kelly-Jane, they are yummy!!! Have been having computer issues lately. The computer crashed and I lost a fair few files here. I hope to be back up to speed here soon.