“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Friday, 30 April 2010
I picked up some really nice looking fat and juicy bangers (otherwise known as sausages) at the local butchers the other day, and could hardly wait to cook them. You can tell a good butcher by his sausages you know! I was eager to see if our local butcher was up to scratch!
I just love a good sausage, which is strange, because . . . when I was a child I absolutely hated them! My mom always got the cheapest ones going, and once in while you might get a piece of gristle or bone in them. As soon as it touched my teeth, it made me want to gag. There was no way you could get me near a sausage with a ten foot pole!
As an adult I have come to appreciate a really good quality sausage . . . fat, moist and meaty, with not a lot of fillers, and a wonderfully, somewhat coarse texture. Skin so *quality* that it almost snaps when you bite into it, and a good mix of spice to flavour them, depending on the variety you buy. My personal favourites happen to be Cumberland, which are nicely flavoured and peppery.
Anyways, I picked up some sausages from our local butchers and decided to cook them for our tea tonight. I wanted to create something delicious with them . . . not the usual bangers and mash, but a fry up that would use up some of the things in my fridge that needed using up NOW! ie. some cream left in a cream jug, a small piece of cabbage and some pasta that was soon going out of date. I also had some mustards living in the bottom of a couple of jars that I wanted to get rid of. They were taking up a lot of space in the fridge that I needed for other things.
I think I came up with a real cracker here! I had to write it down so that I wouldn't forget it and so that I can make it again. It turned that good!
Imagine little meaty bites of a well flavoured sausage, in a creamy sauce filled with not one . . . but two tasty mustards, caramelized onions and cabbage, and a rustic homestyle pasta . . . perfectly shaped to hug and soak in all those lovely juices.
Oh my but this was good. I may have the leftovers for brekki in the morning, and who could blame me!
Oh, and just for the record??? This local butcher is a real gem! I'm keeping him!
*Creamy Mustard Sausage and Pasta Hot Dish*
This is delicious. You get the caramelized sweetness from the onions and cabbage, along with the spicy tang of two mustards, and the richness of a good Butcher's sausage and cream. Fantastic!
a good blug of a well flavoured olive oil
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 of a firm head of cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 good quality fat Butcher's sausages, skinned
a small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped coarsely
a heaped dessert spoon of Dijon mustard
a heaped dessert spoon of grainy mustard
300ml of double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a couple of handfuls of pasta, such as conchiglie or cicatelli
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Add the onions and cabbage. Cook and stir, until they begin to wilt and become very sweet. You want them nice and soft and golden. If it helps, pop a lid on and let them steam/fry for a good ten minutes or so. When the vegetables have caramelized, add the sausage meat torn into chunks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned all over and sticky as well. Stir in the mustards and cream, mixing in well. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the parsley, cover and take off the heat. Set aside, while the pasta cooks.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions in some lightly salted boiling water. Scoop the cooked pasta out of the water and right into the pan with the sausage mixture. Give it a good stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning once more as needed. Serve immediately. ( Don't worry if a bit of the pasta water gets into the pan, this adds to the sauce, just so long as it's not a lot. You don't want it to be too thin.) Scrummily moreish!
Thursday, 29 April 2010
I picked up some ground turkey at the grocery store today. I was craving a turkey burger and thought they would make the perfect supper for Todd and myself, quick and easy.
Normally I make my southwestern american style ones . . . filled with tasty things like cumin, coriander, chili and shallots. Oh my but they are good . . . served openfaced on a toasted English muffin with some quacamole and salsa on the side.
Today though, I wanted something different. You know how it is . . .
I decided to do a search online and I found this one HERE. It sounded delicious! There's some great things in there . . . dried cranberries, sage, thyme, onion. I did them pretty much as the recipe called for, except I used a red onion and I added about 8 ounces of grated strong cheddar cheese. Oh yes, I also left out the bread crumbs. I just didn't think they were needed. I thought I was onto a real winner here.
They looked and smelled fabulous when they were cooking. My tastebuds were a tinglin!!
They were kinda disappointing though. I served them on toasted buns, with some mayo and lettuce on the bottom and a spoonful of my homemade cranberry catsup on the top. We both thought . . . hmmm . . . these are only so . . . so.
In fact, neither one of us finished them. Sadly they went in the bin.
I was regretting not having made my usual ones as I stood in the kitchen afterwards doing the dishes . . . I went to clean out the skillet and I picked a piece off of the one that was remaining in the pan before I went to discard it. I couldn't believe how could something that had such a fabulous mix of flavours have come off as so bland and tasteless??? I needed one more taste just to satisfy my curiosity.
Wow, the taste of the burger on it's own knocked my socks off!!! In fact, it was soooo good that I secretly polished the leftover one there and then . . . all by my little old self.
My recommendation? Make these burgers . . . but leave off the bun. These little babies are delicious all on their own. Having a bun is a waste of time and bread. I'll make these tasty burgers again. I bet the mixture would make some delicious meatballs too, especially if you cooked them in a barbeque kind of sauce . . .
If you are interested here is my recipe for the cranberry catsup. It's really easy to make and goes really well with grilled chicken, turkey and pork.
Makes 8 ounces
This is really a no brainer, but I'm going to post it anyways coz it's soooooo good! Try it with your favourite burgers and with grilled chicken and pork. The catsup gives it just enough twang, but there is that underlying sweetness of the cranberry sauce. All in all perfect!
4 ounces whole berry cranberry sauce
4 ounces tomato catsup
Mix the both together with a fork until they are well amalgamated. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy! Do store any leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered container!
PS - Dee, if you e-mail me on MarieAliceJoan at aol dot com, I will be happy to e-mail you back with some converted measurements for that potato pie! Thanks!
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Somebody was a very good boy today. Well, actually he's a good boy most days. I really can't complain.
He hangs out the laundry most days, when I need it to be hung out. He rubs my toes when they are aching . . . likewise my back. He sometimes makes the bed. He even does the dishes a lot of the time! Yes . . . I am blessed, and I would be the first to say so!!
He loves jam tarts. They are not something that I make very often, coz I love them too, and far too many of them end up in my mouth, which is not a very good thing to happen . . . sigh . . .
Once in while though, I want to treat my Todd to something I know he will really, really enjoy. Homemade jam tarts, tasting of home and hearth, and childhood memories do the trick every time. Simple homely treats for a simple homely man.
Sweet, colourful, sticky and meltingly fruity . . .
Bet you can't eat just one! If you can you're a much better person than I am!!
Hmmm . . . now that I think about it . . . I wonder, who was this treat really for???
*Blush* I'm just sayin is all . . .
*Strawberry Jam Tarts*
I don't know of anyone, young or old that doesn't like jam tarts. Crisp buttery pastry, filled with sweet jam, all bubbly and gooey. These are fabulous. This pastry is the best. Turns out perfect every time!
For the pastry:
4 ounces plain flour
pinch of salt
1 ounce butter
1 ounce vegetable shortening
2 TBS cold water
For the Tarts:
about half a jar of really good quality strawberry jam
First make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub together the butter and the shortening and then add this to the flour. Rub this into the flour using the tips of your fingers, lifting it up as you go to aerate the flour somewhat. Rub in lightly until the mixture is crumbly. Don't over mix. Add the cold water all at once and stir with a fork. Blend quickly until the mixture clings together in a ball, leaving the sides of the bowl clean. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, lightly, to make a smooth stiff dough. Let rest for 10 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6.
Roll thepastry out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a sharp 3 inch fluted cutter. Place the pastry rounds into a 12 hole bun tin. Dollop heaped teaspoons of jam into the centres of each.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has crisped nicely and the jam is bubbling Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating or serving. (Hot jam is really dangerous and can give you quite a bad burn if you are not careful!!)
Note - you don't have to use strawberry jam only. You can use any kind of jam you want. We happen to like Strawberry the best of all!
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
I just love tortilla for lunch. Not the flour or corn ones in the sense of Mexican Tortillas, but those wonderful eggy creations in the Spanish tradition.
Quick, easy, nutritious and delicious, they make a quick lunch or light supper and are great to take on picnics, coz not only do they taste fabulous hot or warm . . . they are also scrumtious cold from the fridge or at room temperature. I'd even wager to say that they are even more delicious on picnics!
Mind you it is not quite picnic season yet . . .
The traditional tortilla contains not much more than egg, onions, potatoes and olive oil, but . . . once again, I can't leave well enough alone can I. I just have to grab the ball and run with it.
Here's my take on the tortilla. It does have shades of Mexico in it, I think . . . with the sweet peppers and the sweet potato . . . but there is also a very definite Spanish bent . . . with the chorizo and of course the olive oil!
No matter, it was delicious . . . this conglomeration of mine. That's what's good about Tortilla . . . you can put everything in them but the kitchen sink . . . and they always comes out tasting wonderfully moreish!
*Hearty Country Style Tortilla*
An omelet by any other name. Chock full of tasty things, this is perfect for using up little bits of leftovers. Don't let what I have used here limit you, try adding your own combination of cooked veg, such as asparagus, corn, broad beans, mushrooms, broccoli! The sky's the limit!
4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 baking potato, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 red onion, peeled, halved and cut into half moons
75g frozen peas
1 small red pepper, trimmed, seeded and diced
1 small green pepper, trimmed, seeded and diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
75g spicy chorizo sausage
6 large eggs
smoked paprika to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of grated strong cheddar cheese
Preheat the grill to medium. Heat 2 TBS of the oil in a skillet about 10 inches wide at the base. Toss in the baking and sweet potato cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until they begin to soften. Toss in the onion and peppers, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are almost tender and beginning to brown. Add the peas, garlic and chorizo. Cook for 5 minutes or so. Season to taste with the smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Beat the eggs together in a large bowl. Tip in the cooked mixture and mix it in thoroughly.
Wipe out the skillet with some paper toweling. Add the remaining oil and heat until hot. Tip in the tortilla mixture, letting it spread out evenly in the pan. cook over medium low heat until the bottom is golden brown and it is almost set. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over top and slide under the preheated grill. Grill until set and lightly browned on top. Remove and transfer to a serving plate. Cut into wedges to serve.
Monday, 26 April 2010
It's no secret. I have a meat and potatoes man for a husband. All I need to do to make him happy it to cook him some meat and potatoes.
I like to be a bit more inventive though . . . I like to put a twist on the usual and make things a bit more exciting!
I think this simple, meat and potatoes dish falls within that category . . . it's humble enough to please Todd, and yet at the same time it's different enough to provide that little extra bit of interest I crave!
Plus it's economical and uses things that I normally have to hand. It's a great meal to have when you have some leftover ham that needs using up, or you can do as I often do and just buy some thick sliced ham at the deli counter.
Either way it's a man pleaser, or at least it is for my man, and that's what counts!
*Mashed Potato Pie with Ham, Peas, Cheese and Chives*
This is a nice light supper dish, served with buttered bread and pickled beets. Rich potatoes, tasting of cheese, ham, peas and chives, soft and creamy on the inside, with a lovely crunchy outside. Todd loves this.
1 kg of floury potatoes
1 bay leaf
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
100g frozen petit pois, thawed
30g unsalted butter
125ml of whole milk
125ml of single cream
1 large egg, beaten
100g of thick sliced boiled ham, cut into thin ribbons
100g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
small bunch of chives, snipped with the scissors into bits
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/gar mark 5. Generously butter a 12 inch round shallow baking dish with some softened butter. Set aside.
Peel and quarter the potatoes, if large. Place in a large saucepan of salted water to cover. Add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then boil until tender. Drain well.
While the potatoes are boiling heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until browned. This should take 5 to 7 minutes.
Drain the cooked potatoes wel, discarding the bay leaf. Mash, mixing in the butter, milk and cream. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Beat in the egg and then stir in the cooked onions, peas, ham, chives and 3/4 of the cheddar cheese. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set and well browned. Serve hot or warm.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
We were at our local B&Q this morning . . . as you do on a Saturday morning . . . picking up some bedding plants for the garden and some seeds to start for our vegetable garden . . . when we were assaulted by the most delicious smells!
Yes, there was one of those tasty lunch vans parked in the parking lot and the smell of grilling bacon and onions made my tastebuds immediately begin to tingle! (There oughta be a law against those vans!)
Oh, the pleasure of a bacon sarnie on a Saturday morning is something that I have not indulged in for a long time now.
I immedately went home and made us a couple for lunch.
Mine had an additional twist . . . of course! I made a delicious almost rarebit filling to toast on the bottom halves.
Oh my but this was good. The melted cheesey filling, the crisp salty bacon, the sweet tomatoes and crispy lettuce . . .
All on a toasted panini roll.
Can life possibly get any better than this???
I think not! (I'm sooooo baD!!!)
*BLT and Cheese Panini*
Delicious BLT Panini Sandwiches with an added twist. A delicious cheese rarebit spread on the bottom and toasted before adding the bacon and tomato. Scrummy!
2 fresh ciabata panini rolls, split in half through the middle
2 TBS cream cheese
2 TBS good quality mayonnaise
2 ounces shredded strong cheddar cheese
1 spring onion, trimmed and minced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound grilled thick sliced streaky bacon (dry cure)
1 large tomato thinly sliced
a good handful of thinly shredded lettuce
additonal mayonnaise as required
Heat the grill on your oven to high. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese and spring onion together. Spread this mixture over the bottom halves of the panini, dividing it equally. Sprinkle with some black pepper. Toast under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown in places. Remove from the grill. Top with the slices of cooked bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. Spread the panini tops with mayonnaise if you wish and then place them on top of the loaded bottoms. You can then grill them in a panini press if desired until golden brown, but we never find this necessary. We just dig in right away!
Friday, 23 April 2010
Today, Friday the 23rd of April happens to be St George's Day. This just would not be an "English" kitchen without cooking something up to celebrate this auspiciously English occasion.
For those of you who don't know it, St George's Day is the National day of England. St George is the Patron Saint of England, and at one time this special day, set aside in his honour, was heralded with great feasting and celebration, being on par only with Christmas day. That could not be said today, although in recent years it's popularity is again on the increase and you will once again see St George's Day Celebrations and activities happening throughout the country in various places!
I was trying to think of a quintessentially English dish to make to celebrate the day. There were loads I came up with. After all the English are known throughout the world for their Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings, Fish and Chips, and oddly enough, Chicken Tikka Masala.
One thing that the English are really, really good at though, is their puddings, which is the name that is given over here to most desserts. You don't have dessert in most places . . . you have pudding, and one of the favourites has to be good old fashioned fruit crumbles.
You can't beat a good crumble, and if you combine tart Bramley cooking apples and sweet hedgerow Blackberries together in one, you have the perfect English pudding in my opinion.
This is a fantastic crumble, with a rich and buttery topping that is a bit different than most crumbles in that it includes flaked toasted almonds, which give it an added crunch and unique and nutty flavour.
With it's buttery, crunchy nutty topping and it's sweet/tart fruit filling, this is a real winner all round. I have added a bit of Peach Schnapps to the filling, which added another dimension of flavour to the dish, and if you really want to be English about it . . . lashings of warm custard ladled over top of the hot crumble are a definite given!
Happy St George's Day!
*Apple and Blackberry Crumble*
Serves 8 to 10
This came about one day when I was going to make an apple and blackberry fool. I forgot to buy the plain yoghurt and so ended up making a fruit crumble instead. It turned out delicious with a buttery almond filled crispy topping and sweet/tart fruit filling. Scrummy!
For the topping:
6 ¼ ounces plain flour
5 ¼ ounces caster sugar
1 tsp salt
4 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup flaked almonds, toasted
For the fruit filling:
3 (250g) punnets of blackberries
(fresh or frozen)
2 large brameley apples, peeled and sliced
5 ¼ ounces caster sugar
2 TBS corn flour
½ tsp salt
1 TBS peach schnapps
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a large shallow baking dish. Set aside.
Place the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Drop in the butter. Rub this into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the salt and the flaked almonds.
Place the blackberries and apples in a large bowl. Toss in the sugar, corn flour and salt. Sprinkle the peach schnapps over top. Toss together with your hands until well mixed. Spread into the prepared baking dish.
Squeeze the crumb mixture gently between your hands gently to make large crumbles. Drop on top of the fruit in the baking dish, covering it completely and trying not to break up the almonds too much.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Lashings of cream or custard are a MUST!
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Lamb was not something I really ate a lot of before I moved over here. I guess it was just not something that was readily available where I lived over in Canada, or maybe it was because it was not something that my mother ever really cooked when I was growing up.
She did try to cook some lamb chops one time, but they smelled like she was burning a pair of wool mittens when they were cooking, and none of us would touch them. That was my sum whole total experience of lamb.
After Todd and I got married our church Ward took us out for a meal about a week later to celebrate. One of the things on the menu at the restaurant was Roasted Lamb Loin with a Cumberland sauce. It sounded really good and I thought . . . . why not be brave and go for it.
I fell in love. Totally in love. The meat was sweet and tender and incredibly tasty.
Since then I have taken every opportunity to cook lamb when I can. I once did a slow roasted shoulder in the oven, using lemon and oregano and it was succulently delicious with some boiled potatoes. That reminds me . . . I need to do that again soon!
We had a delicious lamb curry one night for our tea last week and it was gorgeously tasty. Not too spicy . . . I don't like it when the spice in a dish masks the true flavours of what you are eating. The rich flavour of the lamb shone through in this, with just a hint of curry.
It was incredibly moreish served up with a Coriander Rice. I had thought there would be leftovers the next day for lunch . . . but
It was gone right away. Totally gone. In fact . . . we licked the platter clean.
*A Mild Lamb Curry*
A delicious gentle curry, creamy and mild. Serve with some tasty lime coriander rice.
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
The seeds from 8 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
3 TBS mild flavoured oil
4 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 KG of lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into ½ inch squares
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 TBS minced fresh ginger root
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
450ml of coconut milk
150ml of chicken stock
The juice of one lime
For the rice:
500g basmati rice
1 ounce butter
A large handful of fresh coriander, chopped
The grated zest of one lime
The juice of one lime
Salt and black pepper to taste
To make the curry, toast the seeds and whole cloves in a dry skillet until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind until fairly fine. Pour two TBS of the oil into a heavy based saucepan over high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Scoop out to a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining oil and add the lamb, in batched, browning one batch on all sides before removing to the bowl with the onions and browning the rest. Don’t overcrowd the pan or your meat will not brown properly and will stew instead of sear.
Tip the onions and meat back into the pan along with the ground spices, the turmeric, garlic and ginger root. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Toss all together and then add the stock, coconut milk and lime juice, stirring and scraping any juicy bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, until very tender. Remove the lid and simmer for about 15 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
While the curry is cooking cook the rice. Place the rice in a sauce pan with double the volume of salted water. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes until the rice is completely cooked and all of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for about 10 minutes with the lid on. Stir in the butter, lime zest, lime juice and chopped coriander with a fork. Serve immediately with the curry.