Thursday, 20 February 2014

Glorious!



Nice little tune there from one of my favourite groups at the moment (I want to see them in concert Mr G *hint*).  And what a glorious day it is today!  A bit blustery but blue skies and sunshine :-)  Result.

Hoping everyone had a nice Valentines Day?  Mr G and I had our meal and... I relented and let him watch the rugby.  With Adam sandwiched between us.  Very romantic.  The evening did yield one little gem though.

Adam:  Dad, how old was Grandad when he died?

Mr G:  69. 

Adam:  So, did he die of old age?

Mr G:  No, he had an illness called cancer.  Have you heard of that?

Adam:  Hmmm.  I've heard of it, but I don't know what it is.  I only know what one illness is.

Mr G:  What's that then?

Adam:  Diarrhoea.  I had it once, and I sh*t myself twice.

I got it from my Mama.  I got it from my Mama...


Mr G has an MRI scan on his head tonight after finally having his appointment with a Neurologist on New Year's Eve.  It's at the local hospital so he'll probably come out of there with leprosy or dysentry or something.   Hopefully we can finally get some answers there, if it's something resolvable, then we can resolve it.  If it's something we can't do anything about then we'll have to live with it.  I think half the trouble with not being well is the not knowing.  Once you know, you can accept it, if you choose to.

This morning my PC BSOD'ed on me.  Not again - this is a new PC.  I believe the last time Mercury was retrograde my old one was playing up too.   Turns out that it was an issue with my dongle drivers, which actually sounds a bit filthy, almost marital aid-ish?  Nipple tassles?  Check.  Gimp mask?  Check.  Dongle drivers?  Check... Anyway, I digress.  So I was searching the manufacturers site to see what driver update I needed and I turned to him and asked him this simple question...

Me:  Our dongle is a F5D7050 isn't it?

To be met with a look of abject horror and mild verbal abuse...

Mr G:  Oh my God.  Rain Man?  How the bloody hell do you remember what the product code of the dongle is?  I don't even remember what I did yesterday?

Me:  I keep telling you I have ASD.  You keep thinking I'm joking. 


And there was this little backhanded compliment too the other day.  I'd made a massive batch of Pea and Ham soup.  And let's just say that the wind wasn't just gale force outside.  Wink.

Mr G:  How can something so cute stink so badly?

Me?  Cute?  Evidently. 

Hopefully today I'll be pulling a cake out of the hat.  Orange and Coconut.  Looks really simple and tasty.  Oh, I will actually be baking it, not just producing it out of a hat.  I'm not Paul Daniels.  Thank God.   

M x

Friday, 14 February 2014

My husband. The... blogger?

I'm afraid.  I'm very afraid indeed.  He's decided that if you can't beat them, then you join them. Mr G has a blog.

Go and show him some love over at A Day in the Life of Mr G.  But not too much love.  Because if he gets more blog followers than me, you think I'll ever hear the end of it?  Ever? 

This could be fun...!


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Recipe - Spaghetti Bolognaise


Another recipe that I haven't made for a while, and I don't know why because it's absolutely gorgeous.  In my mind it was a bit 'faffy'?  I know that isn't actually a proper word, I just seemed to remember that there was a tad too much faffing about involved for a simple weeknight recipe.  That was easily resolved by roping in my kitchen hand to help man one of the pans.  He's a good 'un is Mr G, and likes nothing better than standing at the cooker, stirring.  I'm not even joking.  The minute he hears the gas ignite on the cooker, he's in our kitchen like a shot and into the cutlery drawer for a spoon, hovering around waiting to stir.  Bless him. 

This is made in three pans, four if you count the pan to cook the spaghetti... but it's worth it.  This was to serve four.

Tomato Sauce:
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large carrots, grated (but I sliced mine thinly as I couldn't find grater...)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch brown sugar
125ml red wine
½ tsp dried mixed herbs


Put all of the above in a food processor and blitz.  Pour into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meat sauce:
500g lean minced pork or beef (I used pork as we don't eat beef mince)
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch dried herbs
4 bay leaves


Fry the mince in a little olive oil, if required, until browned.  I personally don't use any oil with mince, opting to dry fry.   Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic and herbs.  Cook for a few minutes and turn off the heat, setting the pan aside.

Mushroom and Onion mixture:
Olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Splash of red wine

Heat a little oil in a saucepan, and add the onions, cooking over a medium heat until softened.  Add the honey and cook for a further two minutes.  Remove from the pan.
In the same saucepan, add the mushrooms, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and red wine.  Cook for a few minutes.


Return the pan with the meat back to the heat, and add the mushroom mixture, and the onions and the tomato sauce.

Couldn't even stop stirring long enough for me to take a picture! #blurry

Simmer on a low heat for about 25 - 30 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper if required.  We ate ours with wholemeal spaghetti and garlic bread slices to dip in.  Warmed us all right up on such a bitterly cold day :-)

M x

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Recipe - Fakeaway - Chicken Kebab with Red Cabbage


If you've followed my blog for a bit you may have seen my previous 'fakeaway' posts where I try to recreate a reasonably authentic tasting takeaway meal at home.  If you haven't seen these or would like a recap, then the Chinese posts are here and here, and the Indian takeaway posts can be found here and here.

As you can imagine, a takeaway for a family of six can cost an absolute fortune, which is one of the reasons behind my quest.  The other reason is that a lot of these dishes can be made a lot healthier too.  Mr G and I, and the two eldest, love the Chicken Doner kebab that a local takeaway makes.  It is seasoned chicken meat, cooked on a spit (like a traditional Doner kebab), sliced and served on a homemade naan bread, and topped with the most delicious red cabbage and chilli sauce.  However, a takeaway from here can cost around £30 a time.  So it is reserved for birthday treats and the like. Recreating this dish is my latest food obsession, I'm hammering Google left, right and centre, but it's so hard to find out what herbs and spices these manufacturers use.  It's a lot easier to recreate a Chinese takeaway dish because a lot do use pre-made sauces, and with Indian curries, once you've found yourself a good base sauce, you're sorted for life. 

So today, I decided to bite the bullet and make a start on trying to recreate this dish. 

First of all I made a marinade for the meat.  Because I don't have a spit, I decided I would cook the chicken breasts whole in the oven, and then finish them off on my George Foreman grill before slicing, to give them a slightly charred taste.


I pricked the chicken breasts with a fork and I marinated them for about 2 hours (should have been longer but we were panicking about losing power in this storm!).

Marinade:
5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Paprika
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt

Whisk this together and pour over the chicken breasts.

Next, prepare your red cabbage.  I grated half a head of red cabbage up in my food processor.


Put this in a glass dish (nothing that will stain!) and sprinkle over a tablespoon of salt.  Leave this for 20 minutes.

Put the chicken in a roasting dish, pouring the leftover marinade on top.  I cooked mine at Gas Mark 4/180C for 25 minutes. 

While waiting for the cabbage I made the bread.  I have to admit I messed up here.  I found a recipe for tortillas, and you could make them traditionally thin or thicker, which would be ideal for this dish.  However the recipe stated it made 60.  So I quartered it... thinking I could freeze the surplus?  Well, my quartered measurements made five thin tortillas.  And they weren't very big either.  So rather than giving the amounts I used, I'll share the link to the original recipe here.  The dough then needs to be left for ten minutes.


After 20 minutes, squeeze as much moisture out of the cabbage as you can, I put it in a colander over a pan and used a potato masher to press the liquid out.  Place back into a clean bowl, and squeeze the juice from a lemon over it, stirring well.  You'll see the cabbage begin to change from a deep purple to the more vivid pickled cabbage type colour.  Season this to taste with ground black pepper and salt (if required). 

I took the chicken from the oven and put the breasts on the George Foreman grill for a few minutes just to char the outsides.  Slice or shred the meat with forks.


Split the dough into equal sized balls and roll out to the size and thickness you want.  Heat a heavy frying pan (no fat required) until very hot, and lay a tortilla in it, and cook until the top begins to bubble before flipping over and cooking the other side.


To assemble the kebabs, lay a tortilla on a plate, add the chicken, salad if required (we had shredded Iceberg lettuce and onion).  Top with the cabbage and your usual sauce of choice.  We opted for Green Jalapeno sauce (which when coupled with the cabbage made it taste even better) and Minted Yogurt sauce.


So, what was the verdict?  It was lovely, and not a scrap of food left over.  My husband, daughter and youngest son said that they preferred my version to the takeaway.  Personally I still prefer the taste of the chicken from takeaway version.  I also prefer having it cooked for me ;-)   It will be a good go-to recipe while I keep on hunting until I find out how to make 'that taste' :-)

Whose takeaway would you love to be able to recreate at home?  Have you had any successes?  Let me know in the comments.  Apart from this recipe, I would love to be able to recreate KFC's Zinger Burger and Burger King's Whopper!  

M x

Monday, 10 February 2014

Recipe - Apple Crumble Cake


Have your cake and eat (your crumble)

Another throwback recipe, I've probably not made this for about ten years!  Very tasty and very simple, you could make this with ingredients from your store cupboard.  I'd imagine other tinned fruits such as peaches or pineapples would work well in this recipe.  This time I am using up a bag of frozen apple slices that I bought over a month ago (with the intention of making smoothies... you know me!  Best intentions!)

Today's post has been enhanced by two things of beauty; my new iPad mini that I won last week, and the stand mixer my lovely hubby bought for me for Christmas.  I have an iPad, and a stand mixer.  I need no present, ever again, for the rest of my life.  I am now complete.  My photos are still crap, but they have a pretty border around them now!   They say you can't polish a turd but I've had a bloody good try :-)


Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Ingredients:
For the cake mix -
2 oz butter
3 oz caster sugar
1 egg
4 oz self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the crumble mix -
3 oz self raising flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ oz butter
1 oz caster sugar

Tinned or thawed frozen apple slices, drained and patted dry with kitchen paper.

Method:

Grease and line a 7 inch deep baking tin.  Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar.  Keep to one side.




Put the butter, caster sugar, egg, vanilla and flour into a bowl or stand mixer and beat for 2 minutes until smooth.  Spoon the mix into the prepared tin.  It will be a bit thicker than a normal cake mix.






Lay the apple slices on top of the cake mix and sprinkle over the crumble mix.  I drizzled a little golden syrup over the apples as they were quite tart.




I preheated my oven to Gas Mark 3/160C and baked for an hour on the middle shelf.  Naturally I had to sample the bowl I snapped a picture of, and it was very nice indeed, the sweetness of the crumble and the cake contrasting with the tartness of the apples.  Downside is I can't have any dinner now.  Happy days!

M x