Friday, 14 January 2011

What's making you smile this January?

My friend Wendy over at Red Boots has started a lovely thing on her blog called 'Whats making you smile this January?' I have emailed her with a list that is making me smile but just in case she has many entries I thought I'd post it here.
New Year. New challenges. A clean slate.
My friend Nia having a baby boy, Oscar.
My Kindle.
Going on holiday soon.
Buying a new hoover, not that it’s even me who uses it!!
The snow melting, I hate how it leaves white marks on my brown leather boots.
Terry's Chocolate oranges.
My bed. Always my bed!
What's making you smile this January? Leave a comment and let me know! Happy 2011!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Paprika chicken - Colemans season and Shake

I saw Colemans Season and Shake in Asda a couple of weeks ago for the special price of a quid. You don't get much for a quid these days what with the recession and all, so I bought it. I also felt that the roasting bag along side the seasoning was a novelty; the novelty quickly wears off, especially when you are starving and the chicken takes double the time it says on the packet.

The instructions are easy enough to start with - open the top part of the packet take out the little clear bullet with blue tie - this is the roasting bag. Stick the chicken legs in the bag, open the second part of the packet, sprinkle the paprika seasoning into the bag and onto the chicken legs. It then instructs you to use the blue tie to close the bag 2 inches from the top. The tie seems to be sticky and it is also shaped like a tie wrap, so I wasn't sure if it should just be stuck together; if one end should loop through the other and tighten or indeed just tied in a knot. I went for the knot. Simples.

Last instruction is for those that would like extra crispy skin and who the hell doesn't? Pierce the bag several times. I went ahead and pierced the bag.

40 minutes in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 6 and dinner should be done - lies, all lies. After 40 minutes I took the chicken out the oven, opened the roasting bag, threw them into the dish, lifted one and fuck - still raw.

Back into the oven, minus the roasting bag which was now in the bin for another 40 minutes . I didn't think the chicken legs where any different to any others I have bought before so I have no idea why they took 80 minutes to cook - maybe the roasting bag hindered the process rather than helped.

The paprika seasoning made the chicken taste nice enough, but nothing that mixing your own dry rub of paprika, salt, pepper and what ever you want, can't get you.

In conclusion - waste of a quid and what exactly is the point of the bag ?

Angel Delight and sprinkles - I love it

My dad made me this after a trip to the dentist for root canal treatment, the left side of my face was numb and had a stroke victim look about it. I couldn't eat what my parents were eating, so instead I ate this. I loved it and I love him.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Exotic Mushrooms

I had this risotto planned for a while, and whena fellow North East Blogger - Mince and Skirlie wrote about his recipe, I decided it was time to give it a try. I would have normally used just plain white mushrooms mixed with chestnut mushrooms, but when I saw that Sainsburys had an exotic mushroom pack it sealed the deal. The only problem being, the pack didn't tell me what they were. I think through using google I have identified them but I could be totally wrong, if anyone knows and I need corrected feel free to do so!

Recipe - served 2 - and the portions were pretty big and filling.
2 small onions finely chopped

150g risotto rice

3 small knobs of butter

olive oil

white wine

vegetable stock - but chicken would work



mixed mushrooms - your choice

I started by frying the onion in butter and oil, then adding the risotto rice, the skill being to coat the rice and to cook a little before adding any liquid - toasting the rice. I then splashed in a good glass of wine, maybe more but who is counting? I let this cook till it had boiled dry or there abouts, giving it a stir now and then.

Then it was time to get down to the main event, adding the stock which I had in another pan at a slow boil, ladle at a time, stirring until it had all been absorbed before adding another ladle.

The experts reckon a proper risotto takes 18 minutes to make, I didn't time it, so I couldn't tell you.

Will this was going on I fried the mushrooms in a separate pan with butter and oil, I suppose I could have added them in with the risotto at the beginning but I thought they might break up and I really want to keep the lovely different shapes of them all.

Once I had added all the vegetable stock to the rice mixture, and the rice was cooked but still had bite - al dente - like pasta; I took it off the heat, added another knob of butter some Parmesan cheese and gave it a good stir - this stage is called Mantecatura.

When I dished it up, I simply served the mushrooms on top with a sprinkle of parsley and more Parmesan. The parsley made a big impact. Delicious, well I thought so - Richard didn't like the exotic mushrooms. You win some, you lose some!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

My Pan Bagnat

I've always fancied having a go at doing a pan bagnat but was never keen on the filling that is traditionally used. The two fat ladies do something similar but with steak and onions and call it the shooters sandwich. The thing I was looking forward to the most was wrapping it up and pressing it under a couple of bricks!

I started with a round bread called pain de champagne, I doubt there was any champagne in it but it was the nice round shape I needed. I cut the top off and reserved for later to use as a lid, then hollowed the bread out.

Instead of butter or spread I used pesto to cover the base and lid, then I begin to fill it. Mozzarella went in, followed by salami, this was covered by rocket, then some creamy garlic mushrooms I had made, followed by more salami, topped with the last of the mozzarella, then some sun blushed tomatoes with their oil and finally the lid. I thinrk next time I would buy a bigger loaf of bread I reckon the more you put in it, the better it will be; or maybe I am just greedy!

It was then wrapped it up in greaseproof paper, tied with string and placed it in the fridge where it was pressed under my griddle pan and 2 bricks from the garden.
The much awaited unveiling produced quite a flat sandwich, perhaps 2 bricks was 1 too many! When it was cut into quarters it made for quite a pretty sandwich. We both enjoyed it, me three quarters more than Richard (yes I did eat 3/4s of it but not all at once!) Richard pointed out that he wouldn't put pesto at the bottom again as he felt it was a bit soggy in places.
I think it's something I would certainly do again perhaps trying different fillings, we came up with a list of things we would like to try:

meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese

chicken stroganoff

BLT, but that would take some amount of bacon.

Friday, 5 November 2010

What we ate this week

Jelly Belly Beans

French onion soup

Southern fried chicken breasts in a bun with rocket and tomato

Home made Garlic bread

Filled ravioli with porcini mushrooms and ricotta, with basil pesto and grated cheese.

Chicken teriyaki stir fry with mushrooms, onions, carrots and broccoli served with noodles.

Chilli con carne with creme fresh, grated cheese and crusty bread - it was pretty disgusting since it was made with quorn mince and a weight watchers sauce!

Markies - dine for a tenner - Steak and chips

I think most people know about the Marks and Spencers deal that happens quite frequently now, buy 1 main course, 1 side dish, 1 dessert and a drink for a tenner - it makes for quite a good meal and depending on what main you pick and drink it can be great value for money.

Last we Richard picked up the steak, chunky chips, vanilla cheese cake and a bottle of wine, quite a bag full for a ten quid.

We started with some scallops and pea puree that were left over from Friday night. Then I grilled the steaks stuck the chips in the oven and fried some mushrooms and onions to accompany them. Richard likes a sauce to go with it, but his favourite is adding markies cracked black pepper cream cheese to the mushrooms and onions to make a kind of sauce. I tried to be artistic with the chips and copy what the restaurants do - what we call jenga chips but they weren't all regulation sized and it didn't work quite as I hoped!

To finish we had the cheese cake which was very nice, not to sweet and a good size portion. All in all not bad for roughly 5 quid a head.