Monday, 17 September 2012

Family Sunday lunch: Lamb tortillas with all the trimmings

Very excitingly, the little sister (she's 22 but still my little sister) has just moved to our end of the world to start a new job, so is just round the corner from us and ten minutes drive down the road to the brother's place. So I decided to cook a nice family Sunday lunch for us all to welcome her back Daarn Saaf. (Say it phonetically. It works, I promise.)

My nephew (the brother's son), who by the way just happens to be the cutest most adorable two-month old  in the world (but I'm biased I suppose), decided to be even cuter and more adorable and go to sleep so that we adults could stuff our faces with food.

In honour of the occasion I decided to stretch myself and even make my own flour tortillas and a pudding, even if afterwards the flour and eggshells all over the kitchen made the other half think that two small but very determined trick-or-treaters had turned up a couple of weeks early. The pudding wasn't great so I won't bang on about that, but here's a tip for you: don't use a plastic spoon to stir caramel. 

If the wooden spoons could have rolled their eyes at me, they would have.

Anyway, on with the main event...

Lamb tortillas with roasted peppers; butternut squash, aubergine & rocket salad; spicy rice; and roast tomato & garlic sauce

1. In honour of the occasion, raise yourself out of your nice comfy warm Sunday-morning bed at 8am, and massage olive oil, cumin, paprika, chili, garlic and salt & pepper on to a whole leg of lamb. Pop it into a big deep casserole dish (so that you can cover it with a lid later) and roast for 30 mins on 220c so that it browns a little and the skin begins to take on the flavour of the spices. 

2. Add a glass of white wine to the casserole dish, put the lid on, and roast for another 2 1/2 hours at 150c.

3. Drink rest of the bottle.

4. Realise it's only 9am. Oops. 

5. Panic, look for a good gluten-free dessert in a recipe book, and persuade other half to drive you to Sainsburys. Get "you know you can't bake desserts so why are you trying?" look from George. Ignore it. 

6. Get back from Sainsburys, make dessert, melt favourite blue plastic spoon. Throw said spoon at window and then clean gloopy mess off glass. 

7. After 2 1/2 hours in the oven, add 5 whole peppers, 3 whole large tomatoes and 4 cloves of garlic (peeled but left whole) into the casserole dish with the lamb. Put it back in the oven for another hour.

8. Make tortilla bread mix. Do not, I repeat, do not use 800g of plain flour instead of 200g, unless you want to end up with the mountain of tortillas that I did. Instead, mix 200g plain flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add a glug of oil (vegetable or groundnut), then half a pint of boiling water. Mix with the stick end of a wooden spoon if you're not posh enough (or old enough to have the 1970s version) to have a Kenwood Chef with a dough hook. When the dough has come together, leave to cool down. When cool, knead for 5 minutes to make it elastic and stretchy, then divide into balls - around tennis-ball sized if you want nice big tortillas and have a big enough frying pan.

9. Take lamb out of oven and leave covered on the side to stand. Put the peppers and tomatoes back into the oven on a baking tray, seasoned with salt and pepper, and turn the heat up to 200c. Cook for 30 minutes.

10. Cook long-grain or basmati rice, drain, and fry in a knob of butter, shallots, chili and garlic. Add some crunchy salad and coriander at the end, season (and a bit extra chili if you like it hot) and cover so that you're serving it warm but not boiling hot. 

11. Cut butternut squash and aubergines into large chunks, douse with olive oil, salt and pepper, and pop into oven for 20 minutes.

12. Strain the rest of the juice from the casserole into a pan and put on a high heat to reduce - it needs to reduce by about half. After 20 minutes it's ready for the tomatoes from the oven to be diced up and added to make a chunky sauce.

13. In the meantime, take the meat off the lamb - it should just come off the bone and shred apart easily. Pop in a bowl and cover. 

14. Start frying your tortillas - roll out into flat, large round disks and fry in a tiny bit of groundnut oil in a large pan. I find that this makes stops them going dry as they are cooking, which means you can wrap them around the filling without them cracking. I have to admit only finding this out by the last couple of tortillas, and thanks to my sister-in-law who came up with the idea after I was bemoaning the hard, cracked state of the first couple. Probably a good thing I had the whole mountain in the end... (Next time I'm trying the gluten-free version so that I can eat them too).

15. By this time you're ready to take the peppers, butternut squash and aubergines out of the oven. Cut the peppers into strips and mix the squash and aubergines with rocket, olive oil and season. I also cut up some spring onions and cucumber to go into the tortilla wraps.

16. Serve! Everyone really enjoyed making their own tortillas, it's kind of like Chinese duck with pancakes but... well, but not really. And if you're not too exhausted yourself, eat!

Go forth and wrap while the baby is still asleep!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

An alternative Saturday night dinner: Layered beef moussaka with an avocado, rocket and parmesan salad

Leaving to help my sister move yesterday I stupidly fell down my own stairs, totally ruining my chances of going to a friend's birthday party up in Laandon Taan. Very annoyed, so decided to put energy into cooking instead, albeit limping. Good thing my kitchen's not very big.

All the books tell you that moussaka should be topped with a bechamel sauce, and you're really supposed to make it with lamb. However, I had some beautiful beef mince bought from the local butchers, and wondered whether to make a lasagne - but being gluten-free this was a slightly stupid idea (sorry people but gluten-free pasta just ISN'T the same). I had also paid a visit to the local greengrocer earlier in the day and had some lovely big heavy aubergines - so a moussaka was the obvious choice. The problem is, I don't like moussaka. Well, not the way you're supposed to make it - all that gloopy bechamel sauce on the top of mince and aubergine. So I decided to make it like a lasagne, just substituting the pasta for aubergine.

It was absolutely gorgeous - seriously the best thing I've made in ages - the aubergine was thirsty and had drank the bechamel, creating lovely soft chewy cheesy layers. In the morning, the other half had said 'just cook, and follow your instincts... that's when it tastes amazing'. And he was right! So, here's the recipe.

Layered beef moussaka (serves 4)

Cut 2 aubergines into slices lengthways, sprinkle with salt and leave for half an hour, then rinse and dry off on kitchen roll. This helps to relieve the aubergines of some of their moisture and make the dish less oily. 

Make a ragu, just how you like it - I use 2 onions, 3 gloves of a garlic and a chili, and saute them in olive oil on a low heat until the onions have gone translucent. Add lots of cumin and cayenne pepper, a pound and a half of mince and brown, before adding 6 large fresh chopped tomatoes and a pinch of sugar to help, a pint of chicken stock, a splash of worcestershire sauce (gluten-free version obviously!), salt and pepper, and my secret ingredient, a big squirt of HP sauce. Season and leave to simmer for at least an hour, by which time the tomatoes will have broken up and incorporated themselves into the sauce and the mince will have soaked up the spices. 

Make a bechamel sauce (gluten-free version - melt a knob of butter and mix in a couple of tablespoons of rice flour to form a roux, then take off the heat and gradually add half a pint of milk, stirring all the time to ensure there's no lumps, then put back on the heat until it has thickened), then add in grated parmesan, leaving some to scatter on the top of the completed dish. 

Layer up a dish - first the ragu, then a layer of aubergines, then a thin layer of bechamel sauce. I made two layers but my dish was quite large, and I think it would probably be better with three layers in a smaller dish. End with a sprinkling of parmesan, black pepper and dried rosemary on the top. Cook in the oven at 200c for about 40 minutes.

I served mine with an avocado, rocket and parmesan salad, which balanced the hearty meat with fresh peppery flavours. 

Should have taken a picture of it in the dish just as it came out of the oven, it looked much more impressive... Ah well!

By the time I'd eaten my share and polished off three large glasses of red wine, my grump at having to stay in was over. Am trying to stay this way, so am not going to look at pictures on facebook of all my friends enjoying themselves... I'm not. I'm really really not...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cooking whilst 'merry': Chana daal and rice flatbread

It was the other half's birthday this week, so we went off to the pub with a group of friends to celebrate, and as is the norm with my friends decided to pretend we were still in our early twenties and carry on the party back at our flat. So, whilst Singstar action was going strong at 2am (sorry neighbours) I decided it would be a good idea to feed everyone. 

The result was a tray of roasted rosemary potatoes and celeriac, and a surprisingly delicious chana daal, which I kept to have for dinner the next night. I'd forgotten I had nothing else in the fridge to go with it though, and as neither of our definitely-not-early-twenty-something bodies were particularly up to rushing down to Sainsburys after the day at work, we ordered in a couple of main dishes from the local Indian takeaway to go with the daal. 

Another prime example of gluten-envy... naan bread. I LOVE naan bread, and don't even speak to me about the 'free from' versions which are minging. So I decided to make some rice bread to go with our curry, inspired by a recipe I saw in Anjum's New India. However, the recipe calls for fresh or frozen coconut, neither of which I could find in the supermarket, so I've doctored it a little, and the result is a yummy rice flatbread which is warm and pliable and great for scooping up chana daal and chana masala and lamb korai and pilau rice... or anything else for that matter.

Oh, I haven't included the recipe for the chana daal here because... well, to be honest I can't really remember how I made it. But it was nice.

Got too hungry to make them all, so left some to make today instead

Rice flatbread

Bring 300ml of water to the boil in a pan on a medium heat, then add 100g of coconut milk. Pour in 200g of rice flour and 80g of dessicated coconut. Stir with the stick end of a wooden spoon (adds a bit like a dough hook) until the dough comes together. Take off the heat, cover and leave for 10 minutes to cool down. (Don't do what I did and cover it with foil, which of course keeps the heat in and then burns your hands.)

Drop out of the pan onto a work surface covered with rice flour, and knead for 5 minutes. Break mixture into small balls (about 12 or so). Heat a flat griddle pan or frying pan, roll out each ball into a thin disk (should be a small plate-size) and fry for 25 seconds or so each side. The brown spots that appear should show you when it's done, but if you taste it you'll see if it's cooked or not - uncooked flour and water definitely has a distinctive taste!

Next time I make chana daal, I will post the recipe...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Gluten-free sulk ruined: Sausages with rice 'n' eggs 'n' peas and salad

One of the fun things about being gluten-free is when you get to sulk publicly at other people when they eat things you're not allowed, like pies and pasta - even if you're actually rather happy that your colourful bean salad looks much nicer than their petrol garage sandwich. However, one of the things I REALLY missed when I found out I was gluten-intolerant about 10 years ago was sausages.

Now, I love sausages. I mean, I really really love sausages. (Yes, you can all stop giggling now and thank your lucky stars Brussels hasn't made us call them 'cow innards stuffed with minced bits of pig and preservatives'.)  The thing is, up until a few years back, you couldn't get sausages without the added extra rusk they put in to bulk them up.

However, if you go into Sainsburys now you'll find at least three different gluten-free sausage options, all of varying quality and taste, and this for me is a serious answer to prayer. One of the first companies that burst onto the scene a couple of years back was Debbie & Andrews, and I have to admit that I think they still make the best gluten-free sausage (their Harrogate brand) that is widely available. It's one of the only gluten-free alternative foods that I will buy for both me and the other half, as they are just as nice (if not better) than your fairly high-quality 'normal' supermarket version.

So, the other night, I decided to indulge us, be naughty and fry up the sausages so you get that lovely shiny bursting skin just waiting to make a little 'pop' when you first poke it with your fork. Just to ensure we weren't being too bad, we had it with rice and salad instead of lots of mashed potatoes and gravy... although to be fair I did put about half a pack of butter in the rice. Oops. Anyway, to make the rice a little more interesting I like playing around and adding things to it, so this is what I ended up with:

Rice 'n' eggs 'n' peas

Cook enough rice for two (or four, if you're taking to work tomorrow too) and hard-boil four eggs. In the meantime finely chop 2 shallots and fry slowly in butter. Add half a chopped chili and some diced mushrooms, cook for a couple of minutes and then add frozen peas. Heat through slowly until the peas are warm and add the cooked rice. You might want to add a bit more butter if you're being naughty (never trust a thin chef, that's what I say), and then heat all through until the rice is coated with shallots and buttery goodness and the peas are cooked through. Chop the eggs into quarters and add to the mix with chopped parsley and loads of salt and pepper, and serve.

George rolled his eyes when I suggested the amount of salad on the plate made up for frying the sausages and coating the rice in butter.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The bowl returneth... and a nice cup of tea

And now, if we could all stand to hear our reading today which is taken from the Gospel of St George, Chapter One, Verses 7-8.

"And as I observeth the masses gathered to heareth the Word of George, Lo! a miracle becometh apparent to me in the form of a choir of angels carrying on a gold throne a blue-and-white spotted bowl which doth match my drinking chalice, and the Lord Giraffe vouchsafed the following words for mine ears alone: 'Go, and tell disciples of the food world over what you have seen with thine eyes today - that if your plate, bowl or knife be vanished, publish the wrath of the Lord for all eyes to see and all ears to hear, and said plate, bowl or knife will be returneth forthwith.' And I fell to the ground in thanksgiving that no plate, bowl or knife would never escapeth the clutches of this disciple again."


George was pretty sure there were no staplers or purple folders available in 24BC Jerusalem, but decided a cup of tea was worthwhile anyway...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sobbing over a lost bowl: Chorizo and butter bean soup

On arriving at work this morning after not being able to get cash out of the machine for my coffee, my kindle battery dying, standing all the way on the train, and then finding 3000 unread emails in my inbox (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration) I knew today was going to be a little tough.

What I hadn't factored in, however, was the effect on my already frayed, tired and hungry mind of my bowl not being in either my desk drawer or the kitchen cupboard when I came to eat my lunch. I'd forgotten that I couldn't find it yesterday and just presumed that it would turn up today. But alas, it has not, and short of promptly bursting into tears and looking like a total idiot, I decided instead to whine about it to Gemma who just happened to pop into the kitchen at that moment.

Gemma brilliantly suggested I should make a 'lost and found' poster to see if I could track my bowl down. However, I decided that if I published my torment and distress on the internet and sent the link to this blog to my Department, I might persuade someone into returning it to the kitchen and therefore saving me from the embarrassment of the game that everyone plays but won't admit it... pretending to be like a little office secret agent and sneaking round to look at everyone's desks, just in case.

So, for the record, my bowl is blue with white spots, and matches my tea cup, a specimen of which can be found of my desk.

And instead of the plastic tupperware container that I am currently eating out of, this is what I should have had in it:

Chorizo and butter bean soup

Never whilst cooking did those poor beans dream about the indignity of being eaten out of a plastic container

On a low heat fry some thinly-sliced chorizo in a generous glug of olive oil. When the oil starts turning red with the chorizo paprika flavouring, add in (all finely chopped) 2 shallots, a clove of garlic, half a chili (with seeds), half a carrot, a stick of celery and 3 sliced chestnut mushrooms. Fry together (still on a low heat) for another 5 minutes, before adding a tin of tomatoes, a tin of butter beans, half a pint of chicken stock, fresh basil, 2 bay leaves, cumin, pimenton and lots of salt and pepper. Turn the heat up and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and either eat straight away or leave to cool for taking to work.

You might notice that in my picture I've got sweetcorn in mine too. Given a choice I would have included peppers and probably left those out - but as there were no peppers in the fridge and half a tin of sweetcorn was left over from the chili fritters I made on Monday, it felt criminal not to use them up somehow.

Right, had better go and wash up this tupperware...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

How to make friends and influence colleagues: Cheesecake at work

Even my other half, who has a physical job and gets home starving, can't eat a whole cheesecake (see this blog) to himself - and George took offence at the fact it was the same colour as him. So I took the remainder into work and it disappeared within 5 minutes of me putting it on the table in the middle of the office. So many people asked for the recipe, I thought I'd better pop it on - so here it is, in the form of an email I sent my colleague Gemma earlier today after she and a couple of others asked for the recipe...

Well it’s a packet of crushed malted milk biscuits and a packet of melted (unsalted) butter pressed into a springform cake tin and chilled, then three packets of cream cheese, a tub of double cream, four eggs, 100g of caster sugar, and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg whipped up (really really whipped so your arms kill you - or use an electric one!) - stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and pour into the chilled tin, cook for an hour at 180c, then turn the heat off and leave in the oven with the door shut for an hour, then another hour with the oven door open, and finally chill in the fridge! (all the business with the oven stops it curdling and cracking).
Not an exact science, as you can see, but it appeared to make the hungry crowd here fairly happy.

Why is no-one ever brave enough to eat the last bit?! I once wrote a poem called 'An Ode To a Chocolate Finger' when one got left all on his lonesome in the middle of the office. I'm pretty sure my colleagues think I'm crazy. Ah well...

A close encounter of the fishy kind: Baked turbot with chili sweetcorn fritters and spicy potato salad

I got terribly excited when I managed to pick up a whole turbot for a fiver in Sainsburys on Sunday (always go half an hour before they close - brilliant bargains.) I had a great idea for a steamed white fish Malaysian curry I saw in one of Rick Stein's books a while back. Got home and happily unwrapped the fish from the bag.

Hi. I'm your dinner.
The problem is, he kind of just looks at you, doesn't he. I have to admit, having never cooked a whole flat fish before, I hadn't realised he would have two eyes on one side of his head, and that the whole of his insides are also on one side of him, like some kind of Star Trek fish. He was the most weird creature I have EVER TRIED TO COOK, and I have to admit I got a little freaked out handling him. Maybe the fact I'd already attributed a personality to my dinner didn't help, but I once cooked a whole salmon on a campfire and called him Fred, so it can't have been quite that bad.

Fred's the one in the silver foil. I'm the other one.

Anyway, I chickened out of trying to fillet him and had run out of time to make curry paste (was watching George and The Fish in a stare-out contest. Had to declare a draw in the end). Instead, I went for the following:

Baked turbot

Douse Mr Fish with olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes and pop him in the oven for 20 minutes at 200c. He turns out soft, meaty and delicious, with easy-to-remove fillets (once cooked!) and a little bit of spice on the skin. I served him with a spicy potato salad and chili sweetcorn fritters.

Spicy Potato Salad

Boil new potatoes until cooked through. Combine with (all raw and chopped finely) half a  shallot, half a chili, a clove of garlic, two sticks of celery, coriander, olive oil and salt & pepper. The garlic burns your face off but as long as there's two of you it doesn't matter...

Chili sweetcorn fritters (gluten-free)

Make a thick batter with 100g of rice flour, two eggs and enough milk to make it drop off a spoon but not fall off it. Stir in a tin of drained sweetcorn, a chopped chili and seasoning. The mixture may look like it's going to be too wet to fry, but don't worry - it's rice flour and it needs more moisture than wheat flour. Fry tablespoons full in groundnut or vegetable oil for around a minute or two each side, until golden brown.

Lovely yummy dinner, and not at all scary. At least I now know where the bones lie - I WILL fillet him next time...


Monday, 10 September 2012

Lunching at one's desk: Miso chicken and noodle soup

I don't know about you, but as it gets to around 11.30am I am always desperate to have my lunch. It's even worse if I've brought something in, and I know it's there, sitting in the fridge. I made it to 12.20pm today, a fact of which I am rather proud.

Anyway, I'm still slurping away at my well-deserved lunch as I'm writing. I made it last night from some leftover roast chicken whilst the lamb caldereta was cooking, and felt rather virtuous when I presented a plastic tub to the other half to take to work with him this morning. (I would have felt even more virtuous if it had been tupperware - but alas, the work dishwasher has claimed them all, so it was a tub that had once contained mini chocolate cakes. Ah well.)

The recipe stems from a dish I saw Ching-He Huang cooking on one of her TV shows, although she used rice instead of noodles and different veg. But I must credit her with the inspiration!

Miso chicken and noodle soup

Chop a carrot into thin slices and add to a pan of chicken stock on a medium heat. When the carrot is almost cooked through, add some shredded cooked chicken, mange tout, rice noodles, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce (gluten-free version if you're me!), 1 tablespoon of mirin and 2 tablespoons of miso paste.

If you're eating straight away, warm through until everything is cooked. Add chopped coriander and 2 chopped spring onions to finish off the dish. If you're taking it to work like me, add it all in but take straight off the heat and then warm up in the microwave when you want to eat your lunch. Rice noodles only take a minute or two to cook, so if you cook them through first, they will go a bit too soggy - and one of these days, I will take my own advice...

Due to space restrictions on the tube, I didn't bother to carry chopped coriander and spring onions in a separate tupperware container to decorate. Perhaps I should have - might have disguised the slightly-too-soggy noodles. Oops.

A really tasty, healthy and filling lunch - and cost all of about 70p. Cue smirking glance at colleagues heading back from local takeaways with overpriced sushi and cardboard beef noodles.

Thanks, by the way, to Mr Simmons for the photo. I dropped my phone in a goblet of red wine two weeks ago, and had to send it off for repair. I'll elaborate on that another day...


How not to make breadcrumbs: Lamb Caldereta

For last night's dinner I decided to go for a homely Sunday stew, to warm the cockles of a little giraffe's heart. I remembered this recipe from when I cooked for three solid days in order to do tapas for large numbers of people for the other half's 30th birthday last year. (He had bought me three Spanish cookbooks for my own birthday a month beforehand, so I didn't have much option but to take the hint.) The other half lived in Huelva in Spain for a couple of years, and this dish originates from that region.

Instead of going for Option 1 (what I'd do if left to my own devices - chuck lamb in the casserole pan with a load of smoked paprika, cumin, onions, garlic, chorizo, butter beans, tomato, herbs, stock etc. and leave on a low heat for as many hours as you can) I decided that I would stick true to the roots of the dish and do it 'properly'. Unfortunately, I am not particularly good at doing this, as the following recipe demonstrates:

Lamb Caldereta, George's Dinner style

This is where you can play a game of 'spot the additions to the supposedly accurately rustic recipe from Huelva'.
Provinence approved recipe: In a casserole dish fry two small or one large chopped onion on a medium heat, with two chopped cloves of garlic and one diced carrot.
George's dinner recipe: Also add a chili with seeds (I couldn't help it, it felt left out).

Provinence: Cut lamb steaks into chunks and add to pan. Brown the meat, then add a ham bone, two tins of chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, 250ml white wine and 400ml water. Bring to the boil, then place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 180c.
George: Lamb steaks? Have you any idea how expensive they are?! Let's go for the good old British butcher-verified lamb stewing meat. Right, next. A ham bone? Unfortunately I have no dog in this house, so can't even substitute it. Better use some stock instead of water to make up for the lack of ham-bone flavour. 250ml white wine? Ah, lovely. 3/4 of a bottle left for me...

Provinence: In the meantime, combine 25g of breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon pimenton (sweet smoked paprika), 1 tablespoon cumin and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
George: Breadcrumbs. Ah, this is where the gluten-free problem kicks in. Had better use one of those gluten-free rolls I put in the freezer.

After defrosting and drying out said gluten-free roll, I turned to the actual breadcrumb making. Now, unfortunately I don't own a food processor, so I rely heavily on my hand-held whizzy chopper thing. Which would be fine if I hadn't broken the plastic cylindrical jug that you're supposed to use to chop things in. I go for a plastic mixing bowl instead. Result: breadcrumbed kitchen.

It was at this point that I decided I wasn't doing too well with the 'sticking to the original recipe to make it just like Mama used to make' plan, but decided to soldier on, and made up for the fact my kitchen resembled a breadcrumb-blasted bomb site by using at least three times the amount of spices I should have.

Provinence: Take the casserole from the oven, and remove the lamb chunks. Set aside while liquidising the vegetables.
George: Oh no... I'm sure you're not supposed to use a hand-held whizzy chopper thing on boiling hot liquid.

At this point I considered taking a photo to show the results, but it looked a little bit too much like when my Dad had a volcanic eruption from a pressure cooker full of blackberry jam. So I didn't, and instead drunk the rest of the wine.

Provinence: On the stove, stir in the breadcrumb mixture and leave to thicken for 10 minutes. Add the lamb and heat through. Serve with green beans.
George: Ok, we can do this bit. Apart from the green beans. But there's a courgette in the fridge. That stew looks a bit thin, doesn't it. Maybe gluten-free breadcrumbs don't work like proper ones. Oh dear, there's goes my resolve.

After dicing the courgette, pouring in a tin of cannellini beans and adding copious amounts of salt and pepper, the results were actually rather tasty, although I still think it needed longer cooking on a lower heat. The other half was fairly impressed with my attempts at providence-minded cooking, but wasn't so impressed with the cleaning job on the kitchen.

Next time, I'll stick to Option 1.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pressies for a new blog

George decided he liked what he is now calling 'his' blog. So while I was salivating over the world foods aisle in Sainsburys, the other half took him off to buy me pressies. 

Apparently, the below* is to save me from constantly wiping wet hands on the back of my jeans, which according to George is a particularly annoying habit, and from burning my hands on the oven using our old threadbare teatowels to rescue burning dishes get yummy dinners out.

*also proving I need a new knife, preferably one with a complete tip

However, I was a little more excited about the present that just happened to find its way into the shopping trolley. No idea how. Must be a mystery admirer.

Guess what this is for...?
A NEW NOTEBOOK!! Just for me and my recipes and constant lists of new kitchen-y gadgets and fings wot I need! All I need now is a new pen to go with it and I'll be the happiest girl alive.

Don't blame me, please. I may be a foodie but I can't help being the daughter of a an English teacher.

The morning after the night before: Baked chorizo omelette

A perfect Sunday morning breakfast to counteract whisky-fumes coming from the direction of other half. Stuck head in the fridge and used what I could find. 

I had some large potatoes that needed using up, but in an ideal world I'd substitute them for new potatoes, so for the purposes of this recipe I've lied and pretended that my fridge was perfectly stocked...

Baked chorizo omelette

Slice chorizo and saute in butter. Add half a finely chopped leek and turn heat down low so that it cooks slowly and caramelises in the yummy pimenton flavours.

Meanwhile, thinly slice 7 or 8 new potatoes and boil until still firm but cooked through. Whisk together 6 eggs with salt, pepper and a bit of cream. 

Add leftover salad leaves, a couple of sliced tomatoes, herbs and whatever else green you fancy to the chorizo and leeks, and warm through for two minutes. 

Layer up in a dish, pour the eggs over and whack in the oven for 25 minutes on around 200 degrees. Eat with a cup of coffee whilst watching Lovejoy on repeat. 

Note to self: must find out how to add accents onto letters and degrees marks in this blogger thingy...

Someone ate my cheesecake

I was very proud of myself yesterday, having made my first foray into baking since last year's disaster with a loose springbound cake tin, a very flat Victoria Sponge and a visit from Grandma. 

Not being able to eat the base myself (stupid gluten-free rules) I decided to leave the baked cheesecake for the other half and friends to taste later. We didn't quite get that far, and after a summer lamb risotto, a few bottles of cheap fizz and a visit to the local seedy club, we arrived back at the flat and played my friends' favourite game, which consists of me sitting at the piano and them yelling showtunes in what we think at that point of the night is a harmonious manner.

At some point during the melee, someone obviously decided they were hungry.

12 midnight: One whole baked cheesecake in fridge.
2am: Half a baked cheesecake in fridge.
This morning: Decided to take photo for evidence...

I found hoofprints in the butter

For those who are interested, the recipe is really easy and brilliant - from 'home food', published by Murdoch Books - recipe for 'Baked cheesecake' on page 340. One of my favourite ever cookbooks, and it doesn't even attribute an author. There's another one in the same range called 'hot food' which is also fab.

Oh, and it says it serves 10. I recommend you don't invite my other half to share it if you want it to stretch to more than 3.