Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Friday, 1 May 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Something I never order when we go out to Indian restaurants, or have takeaway is Dhal. Therefore I have no way of knowing if what I am making is right. I realise its in no way authentic as its a recipe borrowed from about 3 others, and then bits of my own ideas thrown in. All I know is that is tastes good! I have been known to make a batch and stand by the cooker with a saucepan and wooden spoon in hand, shovelling unceremoniously. I often take a little pot from the freezer for my lunch at work, and its great served with a salsa type mix of chopped tomatoes, onions and cucumber. Its equally as good served with a meat curry and rice, or stirred through any leftover curry to bulk it out a bit.
Very comforting, and can be made as spicy as you like it.
half tsp of fennel seeds
half tsp of cumin seeds
1tsp garam masala
1tsp medium curry powder
1/2tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
3 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger peeled
400mls coconut milk, can use low fat
1 small dried chilli, or fresh chillis to your taste
tea spoon sea salt
200grams small red lentils
50grams green lentils
1) put spices in a pan and dry fry for a couple of minutes
2) take spices, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and blitz in a blender to form a paste
3) fry the paste in a little hot oil for 5 minutes
4) add the lentils, water and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until lentils are cooked through, usually about 20-30 minutes. I sometimes cook for maybe 40 minutes to get a nice thick creamy texture.
5) check seasoning and serve
optional 6) you can fry some sliced onions, curry leave and mustard seeds until they start to pop and pour over the dhal before serving
I added a swirl of soya cream for the photo but it doesn't really need it to be honest. The peas and mint add such a great flavour that it can carry itself quite easily. The photo does make the soup look a little thin, but that's only because by the time I had finished setting things up the peas had sunk to the bottom. When blending I like to leave a little texture. I don't think this is the sort of soup that suits being really smooth, but its entirely up to you.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Anyway, I was flicking through as I do, and saw a recipe for a beetroot risotto. I didn't have time to write down the recipe, but it has stuck with me since and I have been desperate to make it. I had two small raw beetroots in the fridge left over from mothers day which seemed to have lasted rather well, plus we always have risotto rice in. The only thing I was lacking was any decent stock, having used up my freezer reserves of homemade chicken and vegetable stocks.
Following a discussion on the BBC Food Boards, I discovered that the new Knorr Stock Pots were on offer in Sainsburys for half price. Eight pots for 99p cannot be ignored as a handy store cupboard standby.
2 raw beetroot, peeled and grated (wear gloves if you have them!)
200g of risotto rice
1 onion, finely chopped
half tsp of fennel seeds toasted and crushed
half tsp cumin seeds toasted and crushed
2 pints of stock (made with one little stock pot) needs to be simmering in a separate pan
1) sweat onion in a little oil or butter for a few minutes. add rice and spices and cook on a gentle heat for another few minutes or until the grains of rice have cracks appearing on them. add in the grated beetroot and stir until incorporated with the rice
2) add a ladle full of stock, stir gently until all the stock has absorbed. repeat until all the stock has been added and the rice grains are creamy when bitten into. should take about 45 mins
3) season to taste and serve a bowl full of the risotto with a spoonful of sour cream and fennel fronds to garnish.
I think next time I will add a little more of the spices, but overall it was a really good risotto. I loved the colour and the flavour was ever so subtly earthy. I would have been happier if the colour of the beetroot had bled as much, I liked the darker flecks as it was cooking, but I suppose thats the nature of beetroot. Everything goes pink!
Upon arrival in Brighton we first navigated the weirdest underground parking system we had ever encountered, and then stripped off our jackets for a walk along the beach. Wonderful weather meant that the world and his wife were out for the day in Brighton but it just made everything seem more summery rather than crowded if you know what I mean.
After a couple of hours of wandering the beach and the pier we decided we better head home. However I had spotted a lovely looking place for an ice cream, The World Famous Pump Room right on the beach just about in line with the Grand Hotel. Their ice cream is made on a local farm and they have lots of lovely flavours. OH went for Amaretto and I opted for Lemon Meringue. I know I shouldn't as dairy really does not agree with me, but my goodness it was good. One scoop served in a crisp sugar cone lasted me a good 20 minutes back to the car and out of Brighton.
Sunday night we had dinner in the hotel planned. Hubby had scoped out the menu earlier in the day and said there were some decent looking options. So we settled down (quite uncomfortably close to the next table in my opinion) and placed our orders. Mackerel pate for me, and I actually cant remember what hubby had, followed by roast Topside of beef for hubby and stuffed sea bass with leek, ginger and fennel for me.
First we were served our wine. Id gone for nice Sancerre and the poor waiter took about 10 minutes to get the cork out, snapping it in the process. He poured some and asked if I wanted to taste it. Well I would have done if there weren't tonnes of bits of cork floating in my glass. After speaking to the manager we managed to get them to get us a new bottle. This was followed by them serving me normal pate instead of mackerel. Tasty starters but not overly impressive.
All was about to change. OHs beef with horseradish mash was divine apparently. I wouldn't know, I don't really eat beef so declined a sample. My sea bass however was out of this world. Two fillets of seabass sandwiched together by a slow cooked, soft sweet caramelised mix of leeks and fennel with the not overpowering addition of fresh ginger. Served with saffron potatoes and some buttery cabbage and broccoli, I could have happily eaten this dish again and again.
Sorry about the fact that there is a large proportion of me in the picture. Being very close to the next table I didn't feel overly comfortable taking pictures of the food, so hubby pretended to take one of me, but moved it down to the get the fish instead!
We don't normally do desserts but had to finish off with one as they were paying! OH opted for Baileys creme brulee which he really enjoyed and I had date and ginger pudding. Perfect texture and size, accompanied by creme fraiche to offset the richness. Again shouldn't have eaten the dairy but what the hey!
Overall an enjoyable weekend away. Food wasn't as perfect as I would have liked on the Saturday, but serves me right for not booking somewhere before 4pm on the day.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Normally we take sandwiches, but we didn't have anything in the fridge so decided to stop at some services on the way. Now I am not one for a Ginsters pasty, or Scotch egg, but providing you can find a services with a Costa Coffee, or even an M&S you can do OK. We decided to go the Costa Coffee route and filled up on panini's and soya milk hot chocolate.
If we had realised we came off the motorway quite so early, we would have maybe postponed lunch and stopped in one of the many quaint little villages along the way. We went past so many country pubs, each one looking better than the last. Eventually half an hour from our destination we decided that we couldn't pass up the sunshine and we had to stop for a drink. We went to this lovely pub called The Mulberry Bush or Mulberry Tree which has a sister property somewhere. Stoopid me me thought she would be able to find a web link to the place and I cant. Anyway i had a lovely Pimms, and OH had an Old Speckled Hen.
On our way back to the hotel we went past another pub called The White Swan. We stopped off to investigate and it looked really nice on the inside. We had a gander at the menu and it all looked fairly decent. So later that evening we hopped in a taxi and made our way back.
It was quite quiet when we got there with only about 3 other tables eating, and one couple having drinks at the bar. We decided to have a drink whilst we read the menu, and having made our decisions were led to the table. They started off by saying they didn't have one thing on the menu which was scampi. No problem there, neither of us wanted it. Then she came back 10 minutes later to say they also didn't have the seabass(my choice) and one other thing which I cant remember. So I had to change my mind. There were a few other things on the menu, but nothing really grabbed me like the grilled seabass on a white wine risotto had done, so I resorted to the starter of fish cakes, but served as a main with chips and veg.
For starter I had leek and potato soup, which was homemade and nice, but far to peppery. OH had duck terrine, with Tacklemans chutney and Melba toast. For mains, I had the above mentioned fish cake and OH had his all time favourite of steak with peppercorn sauce, onion rings, chips and roasted vine tomatoes. The service was good throughout the meal, but the place lacked atmosphere to be honest. We then had a terrible end, when they brought us the bill with an extra £2 added onto the steak, an extra 70p on the fishcakes and a few more pennies here and there. All in all they tried to charge us an extra £4.20p. We spoke to the girl who served us and it appears it was something to do with the computer, and she was very apologetic and took the money off as she should. They also didn't seem to charge us for the drink we had in the bar before the meal, so I did still leave a tip!
The curry paste is VERY hot. It recommends 2-3 dessertspoons and it certainly made our noses run! On the jar it just advises using the paste with water, but the addition of the coconut made it a creamier and more to our liking. Despite the spiciness it was a really good curry. Lots of flavour and quite addictive. We will definitely make this again and I have already mixed a bit of the paste in with some coconut cream as a marinade for some chicken legs which are in the freezer waiting for a suitable BBQ day!
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Easter bunnies waiting to be iced
Ok so I am not religious in the slightest, however I still do the old fish on Good Friday thing. Don't know why, I think its something my parents always did even though they aren't religious either!
We did cheat slightly by having left over pulled pork in pittas for lunch, but I am sure being frugal lets you off.
Anyway, I am a big smoked salmon fan. Hubby not so fussed, but will eat it and does claim to enjoy it every now and again. Those packs of value smoked salmon trimmings are really quite good when you are working to a budget and we often have a pack in the freezer.
We were off to the pub later on Friday night and as it was my turn to drive I thought I'd better line hubby's stomach with pasta. He is a PROPER beer drinker and we go to what is probably one of the most run down little pubs in our home town. From the outside the paint is crumbling, and the inside is filled with old men huddled round little tables, and there is a stroppy old bar woman who once shouted at us to "not f~%k with the fire". The beer is therefore the only reason we go there. Hubby and his mates usually work from left to right across the hand pumps, so it can turn quite messy!
Smoked Salmon Vodka Pasta (serves 2)
half a pot of Alpro soya cream (or Elmlea for you normal peeps)
half a bag of washed spinach
half table spoon of tomato puree
1 packet of smoked salmon trimmings
100g of pasta per person
Friday, 10 April 2009
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo, which is very unlike me, I'm usually snapping everything we eat at the minute. I will be making again though so will add a photo in the not too distant future.
Random Aubergine Thing
250g of pork mince (could use lamb)
1 onion finely chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
5 chopped dried apricots
2 chopped dried figs
Half small courgette diced
8 mushrooms diced
Half an orange pepper diced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tom puree
2 level tbsp ground almonds
1 cup veg stock
1 large aubergine
For the cheesy sauce (I made a lot as can never get quantities of cheese sauce right!)
50g flour (approx)
1 carton of Soya cream (or about 250ml milk)
1/2 cup veg stock (you probably wont need it unless the sauce is too thick - as I used soya cream I needed it)
50g grated cheese
1) slice aubergine in half length ways, scoop out the insides, dice it up and put to one side. Scoop out insides to leave a "shell", brush with oil, sprinkle with a little extra cumin and bake in oven 200 deg for 15mins or until cooked
2) fry off pork mince, onion and garlic. Add spices, dried fruit and tom puree. Stir and cook for 2 mins
3) add in diced veggies including the insides of the aubergine and cook for another 2 mins. Add ground almonds, stir until incorporated and then add veg stock.
4) cook for 10 mins until sauce is thickened and veggies are cooked. Season and cover to keep warm
5) make sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan. Add lots of grated nutmeg and a little black pepper. Add in a little of the flour and whisk in. Keep adding a little flour until you get a thick goo. Add the milk a little at a time and keep whisking until smooth. Add some grated cheese and stir until melted. Should be a thick dropping consistency.
6) spoon your pork mix into the hollowed out aubergine, make sure to mound it up. Cover the top with as much or as little cheese sauce as you want and bake in a 250deg oven for 10 mins, until cheese sauce is just turning golden.
7) serve with some little roasted potatoes sprinkled with sea salt, and some salad.
I had leftover mince and leftover cheese sauce. Bunged em both in a little pot and heated up in microwave at work for my lunch. Oh My God it was heavenly!!! Leftovers rule!
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
3) take one packet of blinis (I don't make my own) and put them on a baking tray and into a low oven for 10 minutes
And my final canape was to be honest a bit of a let down. I had been at The Belfry (nr Birmingham) a couple of weeks ago on a work trip and we were given a fantastic array of canapes before dinner. One of them was, as far as we could work out, a tomato croquette. Now the version we had was a smooth pale red inside, and served warm - very reminiscent of a potato croquette and was one of the nicest little morsels I have eaten in a while. I searched high and low on the old t'internet for a recipe which sounded vaguely like it would produce what I wanted and was stumped at every turn. In the end the only recipe I found was this one Tomato and Basil Croquettes
Monday, 16 March 2009
The parents along with the in-laws are also coming for dinner next Sunday (Mothers Day) so I didn't want to go all out and not have anything to wow them with next week so decided against starters. Mum isn't much of a dessert person and Dad likes a bowl of Onken yoghurt with some banana or muesli, or a slice or two of soreen so that was off the menu too. However I decided that something was needed, and after a root through the fridge I found a packet of beetroot and made the following.
1 packet of vac-packed beetroot, or ideally fresh ones
1 tablespoon of cream (I used soya cream)
lemon juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
5 fresh mint leaves
half a clove of garlic
Blitz everything up in a mini-chopper or food processor until its fairly smooth.
I served with a bag of Asda value tortilla chips, but it will easily go with crudites. Don't worry about the garlic, its far from overpowering and as long as it wasn't a massive clove and you don't mind the taste you could probably put a whole one in.
For the main course I did the Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Pilaf
Now we normally eat chicken thighs, turkey thigh meat, or turkey breast, but I happened to have a packet of 5 chicken breasts in the freezer which is just what was called for in this recipe. I decided to do something in the slow cooker, as we had been out all morning and a friend was coming in the afternoon.
Sundried Tomato and Chicken Pilaf
1tbs of olive oil
4 chicken breasts
1 large onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
50g of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
2 teaspoons of pesto
1 pint chicken stock
200g of normal/wild rice mix
salt and pepper
1) Heat the oil and brown the chicken breast on the presentation side only
2) Fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes and add tinned tomatoes. Add sundried tomatoes and pesto, season with salt and pepper
3) Pour into slow cooker and stir in stock
4) Rinse rice, and add to slow cooker
5) Arrange the chicken on top, brown side up and press them just under the liquid.
6) Cover and cook on high for 3-4hrs
NB. The recipe says to cook for 3-4hrs on high, and I went more for the 4hrs however I think this was a bit long as the rice was a bit too soft for me. In future I would go for 3hrs and if it needed a little longer turn to low. Overall though a really nice dish, and we had it with some lovely steamed veg. Definitely something you can serve for a dinner party, or nice meal with friends.
Cant wait for next year. The culinary gauntlet has well and truly been thrown down!
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Ive never been that far down the country, and I am really looking forward to it. There are 12 of us this year and I'm in charge of the shopping. Ive done it every year and I love it. Making lists is one of my hobbies, so I thrive! We have a budget of £23 per person for 4 evening meals, 4 lunches, 3 normal breakfasts and 1 full English. Doesn't sound a lot but we manage to eat well. This years menu is as follows
Monday - Shepherds pie, carrots, broccoli and peas (cooked by me and J)
Tuesday - Chilli with rice, sour cream and tortilla chips (cooked by hubby and his friend from work)
Wednesday - Fish Bake with new potatoes (cooked by J and J)
Thursday - Sausage and Pesto Pasta Bake with crusty bread and salad (cooked by G with T&R assisting)
A few of us will muck in with the full English and the rest of the time its just get what you want from the fridge/cupboards whenever you need it. We take our own alcohol, of which there is a lot! Lunches are usually sandwiches to talk out with us, or if we are staying in due to the bad weather then 9p noodles, crumpets with cheese or quiche.
Ive also asked the very nice people of the BBC food boards for ideas on nice pubs in case we want to eat out during the day, or stop off for a well earned pint on the way back from a walk, so thank you to all who replied.
I will try and take piccies if I can, showcasing not only mine but my esteemed co-holidayers culinary skills. Ive also got a post for Frikadeller that I need to put that up when I get back.
Ta ta for now
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
I am very passionate about doing all I can to support any form of cancer charity. In the past I have done an abseil off Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, organised a cake bake at work, and am organising another one for the end of this month.
Please give as much as you can. I know its the credit crunch, but even £1 would help.
Monday, 16 February 2009
So off I went.
Kashmiri Butter Chicken
(Ultimate Slow Cooker - Sara Lewis)
3 garlic cloves
4cm of root ginger, peeled
1 large red chilli, halved and seeds discarded
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbs sunflower oil
25g of butter
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
300ml chicken stock
1 tbs of light muscavado sugar
2 tbs of tomato puree
5 tbs of double cream
pinch of salt
2 tbs of flaked almonds
sprigs of coriander
1) Blend the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor
2) Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add chicken until all the meat is evenly browned. Lift pieces out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate
3) Add butter to the pan and when it has melted add the onion paste. Cook until just beginning to colour. Stir in all the crushed seeds and spices. Cook for 1 minutes and then add the stock, sugar, tomato puree and salt. Bring to the boil
4) Transfer chicken to slow cooker, pour onion mixture over the top and make sure the chicken is pressed below the surface. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours.
6) To serve, stir in the cream and garnish with almonds and corriander.
N.B I halved this and only made it for two, and there wasn't an awful lot in the slow cooker, so it cooked quite a bit quicker than suggested. In the future I would make the full quantity and freeze before adding the cream. Speaking of cream, I dont think it really needs it. I used less than half the amount of Alpro Soya cream, and to be honest I preffered the taste beforehand, but this could be beacuse it was soya cream. The picture was taken before the cream was added, and we served it with plain boiled brown rice.
There had been much to-ing and fro-ing over what we fancied. We decided on the starters fairly early on and actually stuck to it. We had scallops (big massive ones) wrapped in Black Forest ham from Lidl, pan fried and served on a minted pea puree. Now I know that sounds VERY Masterchefy but I like it so there! To be honest I gave hubby one of my scallops and went back for seconds on the pea puree, which he thought very strange!
For mains we couldn't make our minds up. First of all I fancied Cheese Fondue, and found a great recipe where you end up with a crispy disc of cheese at the bottom. Now this might sound a bit odd as I am lactose intolerant, but to be honest cheese doesn't seem to affect me, and certainly not as much as milk or sour cream. Anyway hubby decided that fondue would be a bit heavy, considering our plans for later that evening(!) so I trawled through my recipes and came up with alternatives. First we thought about lamb Wellington. There was a recipe in last months Easy Cook magazine which looked lovely and used neck fillet so economical too. But then he decided he didn't fancy that. So back to the drawing board.
We ended up choosing a recipe I have had for ages and never got round to cooking.
My lovely sister got me a pasta machine for Christmas and we bravely made our first batch a couple of weeks ago. It was definitely trial and error! However this time, we perfected it. We were a smooth, well oiled, pasta making machine! The pasta came out perfectly and was duly hung over the oven door handle whilst we tidied up.
The recipe is from Sainsburys 2008 calendar which came free with the Christmas magazine. Hubby isn't keen on watercress so I substituted basil instead. It worked really really well, and is perfect served with a chilled Pinot Grigio.
Open Salmon Lasagne with Watercress and Tomato Sauce
3 x 75g of watercress
3 tbs of capers
juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
6 tbs of olive oil
4 salmon fillets
1 250g pack of fresh lasagne sheets, halved
4 vine tomatoes, finely chopped
N.B. The recipe advises that you roast the salmon fillets, but I steamed them for 10-12 minutes. Also used 4 vine tomatoes for 2 people as I didn't feel there were enough. And as mentioned above I used a packet of basil rather than the watercress.
1)In a food processor whiz the watercress, 2 tbs of the capers, lemon juices and 4 tbs of the oil until the watercress and capers are finely chopped. Season and set aside
2) Lay the salmon fillets on an oiled baking sheet, season with black pepper and bake for 15 minutes.
3) Meanwhile in a pan of salted boiling water cook lasgane for 6-7 minutes until al dente. Drain and toil with 1/2 tbs of olive oil
4) Once salmon is cooked, roughly flake into a bowl and 3/4 of the chopped tomatoes and 3/4 of the watercress mixture and stir
5) Lay one piece of lasgane on 4 plates and spoon a little of the salmon mixture on top of each, repeat until you have two layers of fish and lasagne. Then top each pile with another piece of lasagne
6) Thin the remaining watercress mixture with a tablespoon of oil, then spoon over the lasganes. Scatter with the rest of the capers and chopped tomatoes, season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges.
So I had this bag that needed using, I didnt want to spend any more money and in my continuing quest to drop another half stone in time for my holiday I decided that I should make soup.
Thai Spicy Spinach Soup
1 bag of spinach - washed
1 large potato - skin left on
2 tbsp of green Thai curry paste
1 1/2 pints of chicken or veggie stock
Finely chop the onion and fry in a little oil with the curry paste for 5 minutes
Finely dice the potato and add to the onion mix. Cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the stock and the bag of spinach and bring to the boil
Remove from the heat and blitz with hand blender
Season with S&P if needed and serve hot
I added the swirl of soya cream for the photo, but it doesn't really need it. The potato adds enough creaminess to the finished dish.
The colour does go a slightly sludgy green, but don't let it put you off. The curry paste adds just enough zing to make your nose run, and you get all that goodness and iron from the spinach. Perfect for these cold days.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Right, I have finally figured out how to upload photos, ALL BY MYSELF, which is quite a feat.
However this does mean you have to come back in time with me. Let me explain. When I first thought about doing a blog on my favourite subject I happened to be on holiday with hubby. Two idyllic weeks in Pefkos Rhodes, in a self catering apartment about 15 minutes walk from the main town. Relatively quiet with enough restaurants for one every night, and a couple of decent bars. I explained my plan to hubby, and enlisted his assistance in taking pictures of the food we ate over the fortnight. He wasn't really as up for it as I was, and occasionally cringed behind the carafe of wine as I happily snapped pictures of Greek delicacies, although he does feature as an unwilling subject in a couple of the snaps!
The photo above is Lamb Gastras. The Gastra is apparently the ceramic pot that the lamb is cooked in, and came complete with a number of cracks and chipped edges. Certainly not something that would be allowed in this country! The lamb was cooked with rosemary, mustard, wine, fresh spices and potatoes and was so incredibly filling and delicious. The mustard added a slight heat, and the rosemary some wonderful fragrance. This was our first night meal and a perfect start to the holiday.
The image on the left is a filo and feta parcel. We first had this dish a couple of years ago on another Greek island and it was a combination of flavours that really blew us away. The salty feta is encased in a crisp parcel of filo pastry and baked in the oven. They drizzle huge amounts of honey over the top and sprinkle with black or white sesame seeds. Now I am not a fan of feta, far to salty for me, but combined with the crispy pastry and the sweet honey that cuts through that saltiness, it really is good.
Lamb chops are synonymous with Greece for me, and always remind me of story my mum tells of when she and my sister went away for a week to one of the Islands. The village where they were staying only had about 4 restaurants and was situated on the harbour. One night they were out for dinner and ate at this tiny little place. They ordered lamb chops and were pleasantly surprised when the hugest mound of them arrived on their table. They sat and used their fingers to pick them up and get every last little scrap of meat off what were by all accounts the nicest lamb chops either of them had ever had. As they were leaving the restaurant there as a minor car accident in the lane outside. Being the post exciting thing to happen in this small village for a while everyone came rushing out, including the chef of this establishment. Who turned out to be one of those quintessential older Greek women, straight from a postcard...., complete with the most disgustingly dirty apron you have ever seen in your life. Both my mum and sister said if they had seen the apron before they ate, it would have really put them off, but they were still happy to declare them the best lamb chops in the world! The above lamb chops couldn't compete with that accolade but were still damn good. Juicy but well cooked (no pink bits for me) with plenty of seasoning and a nice accompaniment of tomatoes, onion, tatziki and some rather good chips.
One of the best bits of any holiday to Greece has to be the Gyros. Nothing like those horrid kebabs that so often seem to end peoples nights out in the UK. The shop that sold these was a tiny little thing, with maybe 4 or 5 little tables out the front. A proper Greek version of a fast food joint, but proper home cooked fast food!
There were three choices of meat available, chicken, pork and lamb. Whilst the lamb looked
something like the standard donner meat you get in this country, the chicken and pork were basically chunks of proper meat pushed through the spike and left to rotate until crispy and glistening with good old fashioned grease. You could have a mixture of meat, which hubby decided to go for, but I stuck to the pork. Highly seasoned, with some good spices in there to add a little heat, chips, tatziki, tomatoe, onion, all wrapped in a soft flat bread and presented in some greaseproof paper. Heaven! And all for the bargain price of €3. Hubby went for the man sized option for €5 which had all three meats, plus the chips and salady bits but all served on a big wooden board. Personally I could have eaten there every night and after one too many fruity cocktails I had serious thoughts about opening a PROPER Gyros shop back in our home town.
Cant go to a Greek Island and not eat fresh fish! When I was younger and far far less adventurous than I am now I always used to order half a roast chicken and chips when we were abroad. I know I know, sacrilege. And then when I got it, I used to make my mum sit and de-bone it before she could eat her tea. Thankfully I have now grown out of this, and can even de-bone my own fishes. think the waiter was a tad surprised though when I asked for it on the bone instead of filleted. Delicious soft, white flesh, with a buttery lemon sauce. mmmmmm
On our penultimate night we were sat having a drink after our meal and were deciding where to go on our last night. We finally decided on the place we went to on our first night and on a wander past we had a quick look at the menu. We had been fairly adventurous on our holiday, and had tried a number of local dishes that we hadnt seen before on our travels of the Greek Islands. And then something caught my eye. Tsoukalato Fournisto. Lamb shoulder marinated for 12 hrs in a white Grenache with mountain herbs. Then cooked in an air tight ceramic dish in a wood oven for 12hrs with potatoes, onions, garlic and parsley. mmmm. It had to be ordered 24hrs in advance and was for two persons, so with hubbys agreement we went in, booked a table and ordered what was to be known as THE PIE! When we arrived the next evening we did the whole "we have pre-ordered" thing, and were shown to lovely table upstairs on the balcony. Starters were ordered and devoured, and then we waited for this culinary masterpiece to arrive. And when it did arrive we almost died. From a distance, and from the angle we saw it, when the waiter carried it in it looked like a pie! All I could see was this 6inch deep ceramic pot with what appeared to be a crust around the top. 6 inches of filling with a crust. OMG, how would we ever get through that! At first I thought they had messed up our order, but upon its deliverance to the table all was revealed.
What we had presumed was a pie crust, was actually a kind of dough used to seal around the edge of the pot. We were encouraged to break parts of it off and dip it in the juices inside. We started doing that, but the dough was quite stodgy and plain, made more to be useful than tasty. However what was inside was magnificent. Tender as anything lamb, with the taste of the wine and herbs. Loads of poatoes and vegetables which we weren't expecting. After the first couple of mouthfuls we both started to wish we hadn't had starters, as we wanted to do this bad boy justice. We soldiered on, and managed to finish the whole thing. Never felt so full in my life, but it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.
Its now fairly obvious to me why I put 5 pounds on in two weeks! We ate out every night, lunches were either sandwiches made in the apartment with ham and bread rolls we had brought from home, and then Asda 9p noodles when the bread ran out. So that's lunch and dinner sorted, but what about breakfast? Breakfast always bothers me when Im abroad. Im a cereal girl but I don't do dairy, and there was no way I was carrying 2 cartons of soya milk in my suitcase. Hubby doesn't usually eat breakfast, and if he does its just a piece of toast. So what to do? We all know the bread when you go abroad isn't great, but I have come up with the perfect solution. Eggy bread! Whisk a couple of eggs together with a fork and add a drop of milk if needed. Drown your bread in the mixture and then do the other side. In a pan, heat up some butter and little oil to stop it burning. Place slice of bread in the pan when the butter starts to foam. When brown on one side, sprinkle the other side with sugar and flip over. Meanwhile chop up one really really ripe peach. Sprinkle that with a little sugar as well and then throw it in the pan next to the bread to warm through. Serve the cooked eggy bread with the warmed through and slightly caramelised peaches. If you have run out of fruit, take some of those little pots of jam and smear across the eggy breaded goodness. Delicious!
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
So I sat on the sofa last night and went through it with a bunch of blue stickies and tagged all the recipes I want to try. Here is the list
Smoked gammon and mixed bean chowder
Bloody Mary soup with chilli oil
Spiced pork chops with sweet potato
Pork, orange and star anise
Sun-dried tomatoe and chicken pilaf
Kashmiri butter chicken
Chilli black bean stew
Mixed mushroom and lentil braise
Mediterranean fennel with nutty crumble
Cheesy vegetable galette
Sticky toffee apple pudding
Double chocolate and sweet potato cake
So the plan is to try at least two of these a month, more if I can manage it. Providing I can work out how to upload pictures with constantly having to bug hubby, I will post photos of my efforts to accompany.