Monthly Archives: September 2007

Chicken & Mushroom Strogonoff

Today has been a beautiful day so we decided to have a walk around a Nation Trust property. I have a bit of a thing for kitchen gardens and Calke Abbey has a great one. They had a fantastic selection of pumpkins and squash and just wish I had taken my camera.

I’ve been meaning to make a strogonoff style dish for ages and tonight was the night. I was really quick and easy and will certainly be having it again.

Chicken & Mushroom Strogonoff
Serves 2-3

1 knob of butter
2 tsp oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 chicken fillets, cut into strips
150g mushrooms, finely sliced
75ml brandy
75ml chicken stock
150ml soured cream
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
thyme
salt & pepper

1) Heat oil and butter in saute pan. Fry onions until soft. Add chicken and fry until golden.

2) Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened. Pour in brandy and reduce by half.

3) Stir in chicken stock, soured cream, mustard & thyme. Bring to the boil then serve.

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Heston Inspired Chips

I’ve been on a course all day about Special Needs Education & Therapy so I left the food shopping in the capable hands of hubby. Tonight he cooked me a very very nice black pepper crusted fillet steak with chips inspired by the chips Heston Blumenthal cooked on his TV programme – In Search of Perfection. Hubby would love to go to Heston’s The Fat Duck, but I’m not sure I could stomach Snail Porridge and would adore to dine at Claridges.

Hubbie’s Heston inspired chips
serves 2

4 medium sized maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
sunflower oil
salt

1) Boil in slightly salted water for 8-10 mins, or until the potatoes are about to break up.

2) Drain potatoes, place on baking tray and drizzle with oil. Cook at 240oc for 15min, or until golden brown.

This evening I started to sort out my cookbook collection and have decided I should cook at least one new recipe from my cookbooks each week. The past fortnight has been British Food Fortnight. It has been quite well publicised near me..well apart from Morrisons trying to pass off a well known Russian dish as British food!

A few years back Hubby (then boyfriend) and I decided to get on the property ladder. Our perfect house came on the market and we knew we had to buy it. Our cottage was originally built in around 1780 for mill workers (the mill is still opposite, but no longer a working mill). Sadly it is only one bedroom so in the next couple of years when we start a family we’ll have to move and buying a property big enough with the same type of location is going to be expensive.

Disadvantages of living in a 200+ year old 1 bedroom cottage:
* No central heating (but we do have plug in heaters)
* When the fields out back are harvested we get little furry visitors coming to have a nosy/nibble of our sofa.
* Lack of storage space. We’ve become very inventive with hiding things.

Advantages:
* Beautiful views from the front and back.
* South facing, which helps to heat the house up
* Big thick walls, great for insulating.
* Open fire, that radiates heat throughout the house.
* Lovely and cool in the Summer, cosy in the winter.

So it is now officially Autumn in our household as we lit the fire for the first time in around 5 months, so bring on all the classic Autumn comfort food. We do cook occasionally on the open fire. We have a cast iron kettle to boil water and we have been known to cook chestnuts and potatoes plus toast the odd marshmallow. I put my foot down at hubbies idea to spit roast a chicken over it! The fire is essential as we don’t have gas in the village, plus in winter we often get powercuts.

I’ve also joined the Foodie Blogroll. Scroll down and the link is on your left.

Chicken in a Tomato Sauce

Tonight’s tea was originally meant to be fajitas, but with hubby changing his mind I made a chicken in tomato sauce and served it with a random assortment of pasta. Why is it when your cupboards look full, you don’t have enough of something to make a full meal?!?

Chicken in a tomato sauce
Serves 2/3

2 chicken fillets, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 pepper, cut into strips
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp mixed herbs
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
seasoning
olive oil

1) Fry onions, peppers and garlic in olive oil until onions are softened. Add chicken and cook until browned.

2) Tip in the rest of the ingredients and cook for 20-25 min.

Caramalised Banana & Yogurt Fool

I had some creme fraiche and yogurt in the fridge that really needed using up and I came across a recipe for banana & yogurt fool. It is possibly the quickest pudding I have ever made and was tastier & lighter than I was expecting, but hubby wasn’t too keen and admits he prefers my other puds. He was, however, very excited about getting to use his cooks blow torch for the first time. Spot the custard creams in the background!

Caramelised banana & yogurt fool
Serves 2

3 bananas
2 dsp caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp honey
200ml creme fraiche
100ml natural yogurt
healthy sprinkling of grated chocolate

1) Peel and cut one of the bananas lengthways. Sprinkle with sugar and caramelise with a blow torch.

2) Mash remaining bananas and mix with lemon juice and honey.

3) Whisk creme fraiche and yogurt until smooth and thickened. Fold in mashed bananas and grated chocolate.

4) Put caramelised bananas into glass then spoon over banana yogurt mix. Sprinkle with chocolate.

Toad in the Hole

Now that is officially autumn I decided we should celebrate with some traditional British comfort food. Nothing is more comforting that toad in the hole served with lashings of ketchup (for me) or lakes of gravy (for Hubby). We can both happily eat it with no other accompaniments. Although I made tonight’s toad in the hole, Hubby seems to make it better…even though we use the same recipe?!? Today’s sausages were the flavoursome Garlic & Black Pepper ones from Chantry. Sometimes I wrap bacon around the sausages and add onions while the sausages are cooking.

Toad in the hole
Serves 2-4..depending on how hungry they are!

6 sausages
100g/4oz plain flour
2 eggs
1/4 pt milk
oil
seasoning

1) Preheat oven to 220oc. Make a well in the middle of the flour and crack in eggs. Gradually beat in the milk. Season.

2) Place sausages in tin and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 min, until beginning to brown.

3) Pour batter over sausages and cook for a further 25-30 min.

I’ve submitted my toad in the hole to Fuss Free Flavours for their British Food Fortnight Challenge

Custard Creams

Whilst going through my back copies of GFM I came across a recipe for custard creams. I eat far too many of the shop-brought versions in the staffroom after they have been dunked in my tea. They almost beat Jammy Dodgers to my favourite biscuit! The original recipe uses a food processor, but as I have no room for a hallowed Magimix I had to do it the old fashioned way. I was a bit too generous with the biscuit size and used a 5cm diameter cutter leaving me with only 8 complete biscuits. Next time I’ll use a smaller cutter. I also did a pretty pattern on the biscuits, but this almost disappeared after baking.

Custard Creams

For the biscuits
175g/6oz plain flour
3 tbsp custard powder
1 tsp baking powder
50g/2oz unsalted butter, cubed
50g/2oz lard or Trex
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

For the custard cream
1 tbsp custard powder
100g/4oz icing sugar
50g/2oz soft unsalted butter
1 tsp boiling water

1) Preaheat oven to 180oc (160oc fan). For the biscuits mix flour, custard powder and baking powder. Add butter and trex and rub until you get a crumble like texture. Beat milk into egg in separate cup. Add sugar then gradually beat in egg/milk mix (you may not need all the egg) until you have a soft dough. Wrap dough in clingfilm and rest in fridge for 20 min.

2) Roll dough to around 4mm and use cutter to cut out shapes. Place on lined baking tray and bake for 15 min. Cool on rack before sandwiching them.

3) To make custard cream, mix icing sugar and custard cream then beat in butter until you have a cream. Add water and beat again.

4) Sandwich each biscuit with about 1 tsp of custard cream.

My plan is adapt the recipe to make coffee creams. I can remember them from when I was younger, but there is no sign of them in the shops now.

Spicy Lime Chicken

As inspired by this weeks ingredient challenge, which was paprika, I decided to give spicy lime chicken a try. I was really nice and had a summery taste to it. It was the first time in ages we’ve used our cast iron griddle pan. As much as I love it, it is a pain in the arse to clean and I refuse to buy a George Foreman kind of grill. The only amendment I would make to the recipe would be to add more spice. I served it with turmeric rice and riata.

Spicy Lime Chicken
(Serves 2)
1 small pot of plain yogurt
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of chilli powder
pinch of paprika
juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 chicken fillets
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
1 onion cut into chunks

1) Mix the first 7 ingredients. Cut about 5 slashes in each piece of chicken, then mix into the yogurt with the vegetables.
2) Griddle for about 5 min each side.

Scouse

It’s been a crazy weekend at the 24 Hour Race. Hubby & I were helping my brother to run his photography business. Hubby was acting as freelance photographer and I was the woman keeping customers who visited our stall happy and bossing around the boys. The above photo was taken by hubby. The race started at midday Saturday and ran through until midday Sunday. We provided nearly 24 hour photographic coverage of the race which meant not getting to bed until midnight on the Saturday and getting up at 5.30am to catch the sunrise. Although it was tiring I really enjoyed it, plus on the Saturday night we managed to catch a live performance by the fantastic Screaming Citizens who were providing the entertainment.

I never managed to get any baking done for the event, but while I was there managed to taste some Scouse for the first time in years. I had the lamb version. It’s delicious with a spoonful of pickled red cabbage and a hunk of crusty white bread. Eventhough Souse is a traditional dish for the Merseyside area it is really difficult to come across. Scouse is now on my “must make in the next few weeks” list!

Spinach & Potato Omlette

After the disaster of my lasagna (even though I’ve made it loads of times before), I decided to make something tonight that couldn’t possibly go wrong. Until just under a year ago I had convinced myself that I didn’t like omlette/quiche/egg based meals apart from scrambled eggs. I don’t know why. As I’m not really an meat eater I decided I really should begin to like eggs. Tonight’s most recent veggie dish was spinach and potato omlette. Both hubby and I liked it, but next time I’ll add a bit more seasoning. The leftovers will be in my bento tomorrow!

Spinach & Potato Omlette

250g spinach, wilted
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 medium potatoes, finely sliced
8 eggs
olive oil

1) Slowly fry onion and potato in non-stick frying pan until potato is softened. Stir in spinach.

2) Whisk eggs and season. Pour over potatoes, stir until it begins to firm. Once the omlette is almost set put until a high grill to set top. Turn omlette over and put back onto the hob for a couple of minutes.

We’re working for my brother at a big sailing event this weekend as photographer/dogsbody/chief biscuit maker and I’m planning to make custard creams and chocolate caramel nuggets . In the coming few weeks hubby wants to attempt Créme Brûlée Bubbles

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