Gastronomically Terrific

June 10, 2015

Lamb skewers

Filed under: Easter, lunch, meat — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:24 pm
Ready for the oven...

Ready for the oven…

Something I thought it might be nice to try making myself for lunch, these lamb skewers were actually really easy to make. The evening before I mixed together the (really rather tasty) marinade of olive oil, sherry and garlic, cut up the lamb and soaked it in the marinade.

The next day all I needed to do was cut up some pepper and courgette, peel a couple of shallots, and thread all of this (along with some button mushrooms and apricots) onto some skewers, interspersing the vegetables with chunks of marinaded meat. It took ten minutes to cook it all under the grill, and (along with some leftover rice and peas) I had a really tasty, if rather large, lunch ready really rather quickly.

... and ready to eat

… and ready to eat

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 32-33

February 27, 2015

Frittata

Filed under: lunch, meat — Tags: , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 11:06 am

Another easy-to-make recipe from my Hallelujah! Easter cookbook, this is basically scrambled egg with added ingredients. I made it for lunch when just my hubby and I were home one day. Whilst it was simple to make, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of adding the ingredients suggested, so it was a good recipe to try out. It would also make a good future lunch if you were feeling a bit peckish!

The longest, and hardest, part of this recipe is boiling a potato before you start (just one small one between two of you). Frying bacon and potato for frittataOf course, if you have one left over from a previous meal this step is much easier! You then fry up the (cut up) potato and some bacon before adding beaten egg, mixed herbs and milk. I actually made two frittatas because Dan doesn’t eat meat and I don’t like tomatoes, so we probably had more food (2 eggs each) than was really intended.

Once the egg is half cooked (which happens quite fast), I added some sweetcorn, tomatoes to Dan’s frittata, and some grated cheese. By the time that was all added and stirred in the eggs were cooked and the meal was ready. Other than boiling the potato, the whole thing took about 10 minutes to put together.

Frittata cookingDefinitely a lunch-time meal I’d make again, and I wouldn’t need to use the recipe to do it. I wouldn’t have thought of adding potatoes and sweetcorn to this, but both were pretty tasty additions. Although if you’re pressed for time I would suggest only adding potato if you already have some cooked. Otherwise just pop it all on a slice of toast!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 24-25

January 1, 2015

Christmas dinner extras

DSC07611Including:

1) Brussel sprouts with(out) buttered chestnuts

It’s Christmas, so you need brussel sprouts. But brussel sprouts are quite dull. Thankfully, there are ways to make them a bit more interesting. I had intended to add chopped-up chestnuts, but when I went to use them they had grown a nice layer of mold. I figured it was better to throw them away and just add the flavouring to the sprouts. It’s a really easy recipe – basically you just boil the sprouts for a few minutes, then fry them in butter, salt and pepper and nutmeg. It worked well, and the lack of chestnuts really just meant that, well, there were no chestnuts!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Daily Cookbook, pg. 311

2) Bacon-wrapped chipolatas

These aren’t complicated, and I’ve made them before. They’re so simple, in fact, that I don’t even need a recipe to make them. Just some chipolatas (in this case, some mini ones and some longer ones), some streaky bacon and a bit of time to wrap the bacon around the sausages.

I made these back in November and froze them ready for Christmas Day. This makes basically no difference to how they taste, and on Christmas Day they were still a favourite. The last few tasted good on our Boxing Day Christmas pizzas too!

Who made it: Anna

December 30, 2014

Sage and onion stuffing

Filed under: Christmas, main, meat, vegetarian — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:21 pm

Another recipe I made in advance of Christmas Day, I’ve never actually made my own stuffing before. My mum always does, but I’ve gone with the (very tasty) shop-bought variety. This year, I had the time, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I used Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection recipe for the stuffing and I have to say, it was incredibly easy to make. You boil some onions (yes, I found boiling onions odd too), then add breadcrumbs and sage to the mixture. And that’s it! I froze the stuffing in two halves, so that I could use half of it to stuff the turkey, but still have some left to cook separately for my veggie husband.

It turned out OK, although could probably have done with a little longer in the oven. Th stuffing inside the turkey was quite soft and (unsurprisingly I guess) hadn’t crisped off at all. The veggie stuffing was nice and crisp on the outside, but just as soft on the inside as the stuffing that had been inside the turkey.

In hindsight, I think using bought stuffing would have been just as good, but I’m glad I gave it a go. I’m not sure I would bother with my own stuffing again – or I would at least try a different recipe (there are some in Nigella Christmas book that I would like to try…).

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 113

Spiced and superjuicy roast turkey

The last (and first) time I cooked the Christmas Day dinner was back in 2012. Then, I used Nigella’s Christmas turkey recipe. It turned out OK (there was nothing wrong with it), but Christmas itself was a bit of a sad affair – everybody in the house was ill for various reasons, I had a 4-month old baby, and needless to say, ended up eating my Christmas dinner cold.

This year, feeling that life had calmed down a little, I offered to do the hosting at Christmas again – hoping that things would run a little more smoothly. I decided that, to make life easy, I would cook a nice simple turkey that didn’t require being put in brine. Then my brother said “that turkey you did last time was really nice… can we have it again…?”

Turns out, flattery will get you everywhere. So, umm, yes, apparently. I defrosted the turkey in the fridge 5 days before Christmas, then on the 23rd I put the brine together and placed the turkey in it, before finding a very cold spot (in a locked outdoor shed) to let it soak up all the flavour. The brine contained a myriad of spices and flavouring, including orange, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed, fennel seed, nutmeg, garlic, onion… basically anything with a vague hint of Christmas flavouring that you can think of. This was a great job for a 2-year old as well; he loved tipping all the measured out ingredients into the bucket of water. Although he was less keen to touch the turkey itself!

On Christmas Day morning, I stuffed the turkey with my sage and onion stuffing, and then basted it with a mixture of melted butter and maple syrup. It took 2 1/2 hours to cook; the first 30 mins or so at 180C, and the next two hours at 160C. That meant it got taken out of the oven at midday, an hour before the rest of our dinner was ready. This worked out well, as it meant that there was space in the oven for everything else, and the meat got to rest, but was kept nice and warm, with a layer of tin foil over the top of it.

The end result was pretty good, and I was fairly pleased with myself for getting the timings and the flavourings right. Definitely more of a success than my 2012 effort!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 115-117

December 29, 2014

Hoisin duck / goats cheese filo baskets

Filed under: Christmas, meat, starter, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 5:37 pm

Firstly, I’m gutted that I don’t have a photo of these as they looked amazing.But I guess there’s a bit too much going on on Christmas Day so things like photos of food do get forgotten. I’ll just have to make them again in the not too distant future!

Wanting to make a starter for Christmas Day, but not wanting anything too big, I thought that these mini-size tartlets would make a good choice. I decided to make the filo cases in advance and freeze them, topping them up with the duck/ goats cheese mixture on Christmas Day.

In order to make the filo baskets I had to read the recipe twice in order to understand how to do it, but once I had figured it out, it was quite satisfying to cut and prep the pastry. What was less satisfying was really burning it in the oven (seriously, they were black) – and I only cooked it for half the time the recipe stated! In hindsight, there were a few reasons for this:

1) I put it in our super-fast fan oven. I should have divided the time by at least 10.

2) I use a mini tart-sized tin. Re-reading the recipe, it said to use a mini-muffin tin (so presumably something about 3 times the size of what I actually used). Again, I should have divided the time by at least 10. (although, oddly, the pastry did fit in these tins perfectly…).

Having said that, I’m pleased I used smaller tins. I wanted little bite-size starters, not something the size of mince pies. What you don’t need before your Christmas dinner is a large starter!

Once I had (begun to) stop feeling quite so grumpy about my burnt efforts, I went ahead and made another batch of pastry cases. This time I put them in the conventional oven for a minute. When I took them out they were a gentle golden brown, just cooked and perfect.

These cases were then frozen until a couple of days before Christmas Day, when they were defrosted at room temperature. The filling itself had to be made on Christmas Day, but this wasn’t a great hardship – because it was for a starter I made it when the turkey was just sat in the oven, before things went mental! I fried and sealed the duck, then put it in the oven for 20 mins (it should have been 10, but the oven was only at 160C for the turkey) to cook it through. The duck was then broken up into tiny pieces, and hoisin sauce, small pieces of cucumber and spring onions were added to the filo pastry tartlets. Because Dan is veggie, about half the tartlets had goats cheese added to them instead of duck – but that was the only difference.

The filled tartlets were then put in the oven for about 3 minutes before we sat down to eat (as everything else was being taken out), just to warm them through and gently melt the goats cheese.

The tartlets were a great success. They tasted lovely, and made for an excellent starter – we had three each, and were all still more than capable of fitting our Christmas dinner in! They may sound like a lot of effort on top of a Christmas Day dinner, but they’re actually quite fun to make and don’t take up too much time when other things need doing in kitchen.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 30-31

December 27, 2014

Parisienne potatoes

Filed under: Christmas, main, meat, salad, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 4:58 pm
These potatoes both looked and tasted better in real life

These potatoes both looked and tasted better in real life

I decided to make these for our Christmas Eve tea (along with the aromatic Christmas ham and a salad), knowing that they would be a fairly simple dish to put together before the work of the Christmas Day roast).

I peeled and sliced the potatoes and onions Christmas Eve morning, so that all I needed to do when my family arrived was boil the potatoes, pop them in a roasting tin with cream and grated cheese and then cook them in the oven for 15 minutes. This worked well with reheating the Christmas ham, which needed about 5 minutes in the oven before the whole meal was ready.

The whole meal worked well, and was nice and easy to prepare. It was a great choice for an easy Christmas Eve meal, and the only thing left over was a bit of ham – which was great for a late, easy tea on Christmas Day evening.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 140-141

Aromatic Christmas ham

Filed under: Christmas, main, meat — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:09 am

I’ve made this before, more than once. I made it last November (2013), as a test to see if it was worth making at Christmas. Turned out that, yes, it really is. So this Christmas I made it for Christmas Eve tea, the first meal my family would have with us at Christmas.

It’s really not a difficult recipe to follow – you put the ham, some red wine and a range of spices (plus onion, garlic and fennel) into a large p0t, cover it all with water and let it simmer away for an hour or so (depending on the weight – this was for a 1.45kg ham. My mum’s advice is 20 mins per lb, which seems about right).

You then remove the ham from the flavoured water, let it cool a little, carve off the fat, add whole cloves and a glaze of redcurrant jelly, cinnamon, paprika and red wine vinegar (which takes minutes to boil together on the hob), then put it in the oven for 15 or so minutes. I made the ham a couple of days in advance, then covered it in foil, put it in the fridge, and reheated it for a few minutes on Christmas Eve. So I didn’t even need to cook it on the day (although it wouldn’t hurt if you did, as it smells amazing)!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 32-33

December 1, 2014

Lamb stew with chickpeas

Filed under: main, meat — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 8:16 pm

Another recipe that I found as I was hunting through my cookbooks for Christmas recipes, I thought this might make an easy tea for my son and I one afternoon. Basically you fry up some lamb and onions, then pop them in a casserole dish with stock, wine, vinegar and tomatoes. The whole thing is brought to the boil, some herbs and spices are added, then it goes into the oven for an hour or so (or until the lamb is tender). You add the chickpeas towards the end.

I was right in that it was pretty easy to cook. I was wrong that it would be enjoyed by all. I now know that my son most definitely does not like chickpeas, and isn’t too keen on lamb either. For me, the while thing just wasn’t really flavoured enough. It could have done with a lot more spice.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Daily Cookbook, 13 November, pg. 278

September 23, 2014

Rooster’s roulade

Filed under: lunch, meat, party, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:17 pm
Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food - Rooster's Roulade are in the foreground

Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food – Rooster’s Roulade are in the foreground

OK, so now on to the big event – my son’s 2nd birthday. I made a lot of things for his birthday party (salmon footballs, cheese and peanut bites, apple cake etc), but many of these I have made before, so they’re not really new or exciting recipes to me. They were just things I knew would keep my guests – whether 2 or 32 – happy. I’m not going to write about those things here; instead, I’m going to focus on the items I made that were new to me. Many of these came from the Children’s Party Cook Book – a fairly recent acquisition that I ended up getting after buying it for a friend as a birthday present and deciding I wanted my own copy!

The first new thing I made were these ‘Rooster’s Roulade’ baguette-type bites. Basically a variation on your standard sandwich, they were pretty tasty and can be made in advance (always a bonus when preparing lots of things for a party). The concept is pretty simple – you get a baguette, cut off the ends, then hollow out the middle leaving a 1.5cm crust. You then fill the baguette with, well, whatever you like really. I did two versions -a veggie one and a meaty one. The veggie version contained cream cheese, rocket, cucumber and spring onions. The meaty one contained the same things but had bacon bits added.

Cream cheese is a great choice for this because it doesn’t go off – you can make these guys 2 or 3 days in advance, store them in the fridge and they still taste fine. Obviously they’re a bit nicer fresh (this is baguette after all), but they don’t suffer too badly for having been made in advance.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hats and Bells Children’s Party Cookbook, Hatty Stead and Annabel Waley-Cohen, pg. 44-5

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