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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicken and Vegetable Pie

Chopped up little bits of chicken
 This is a mish mash of what I had to hand at the time, I am not very creative, and need an idea to expand on, I used the crispy topped fish pie as my basis and then expanded on that..... This is probably why I always begin with a recipe.
Chicken and vegetable filling with out the creamy bit

Chicken and vegetable filling with the creamy bit

Chicken And Vegetable Pie

2 chicken breasts
1 carrot, sliced
1 leek, sliced
200g spinach
100ml water
1 chicken stock cube
salt and pepper to taste
200ml milk
1 tsp cornflour
puff pastry

1. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, then gently fry the chicken, when cooked add the other vegetables and gently stir fry until done.

Finished pot pie
2. Add the water and the chicken stock cube to the chicken and vegetables and simmer gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Just about to be eaten
3. Pour all but about 30ml of the milk into the mixture, then add the cornflour/cornstarch to the remaining milk, give it a good stir and then add to the mixture, stirring until thickened, if it's not thick enough repeat the cornflour process again, with a little less liquid. Taste and season accordingly.

4. Spoon the mixture into the pots you want to use and then top with the pastry, bake at 180 C for about 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Lamb

This is another one of my own recipes, I have no idea what it was that inspired me, or whether it was more a case of opening the pantry and thinking oooooooh!! A little of this a splash of that. I very much suspect it was the last one, since that seems to be how I work in the kitchen. All very well but it makes it rather difficult to keep a record of what it is that I am doing.

I was a housewife at the time and very much coming into my own, I suppose I was re-evaluating my life, who I was and what I wanted out of life, and in the meantime spending a huge amount of time in the kitchen, it's a good way to think, whilst doing something productive.

I had discovered the art of clean and easy marinating by using a freezer bag. As far as I was concerned I had reached the cooking level of connoisseur....... Of course I can now, use a freezer bag to marinate, that automatically makes me a connoisseur of food. What else would it mean? At this rate I am going to have my own restaurant and 5 of those star things to boot!! All because of a freezer bag.

Simple Lamb

2 or 3 Lamb Chops or steaks
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
1/2 cup evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce

1. Mix together in a freezer bag the evoo, Worchestershire sauce, garlic, dried herbs, salt and pepper.

2. Place the meat in the marinade and leave for a few hours in the fridge.

3. I use a George Foreman type grill, and cook them for about 4-5 mins, depending on the size of the chops/steaks.

I served it in this picture with a pasta bake, but baked potato and salad are a wonderful side with this dish!

Stuffed Chicken Wrapped In Bacon

Slightly disappointed, this is another recipe I made before it occurred to me to photograph what I make.

I was looking for a chicken recipe, a little more luxurious, than the ones I had already made. The chicken curry I made inspired me, I wanted something creamy - but also cordon bleu-ish, never having made cordon bleu from scratch, I had no idea how to make it.... I loved the creaminess of the cheese and the smokiness from the bacon/ham. I found this recipe and thought it would be perfect for what I had in mind.

It didn't disappoint, herby cream cheese and the smoky saltiness of the bacon complimented the chicken in exactly the way I intended, not to mention the fact I had moved onto a far more fiddly recipe. Several months before I would never have attempted to cut pockets into chicken breasts and here I am with a filleting knife doing exactly that.

Stuffed Chicken Wrapped In Bacon

4oz cream cheese
2 Chicken Breasts
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
4 rashers/slices of bacon
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, salt and pepper and dried herbs.

2. Carefully cut a pocket in each of the chicken breasts. Then stuff the cream cheese into each.

3. Using a spoon, flatten and stretch the bacon, then wrap it tightly around the chicken breast, to seal in the cream cheese.

4. Wrap each one in foil and cook in the oven at about 425°F  for 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms and home made lasagne

I think I maybe spreading myself a little thinly, I have course work to do, just helped one of the lads write his wedding vows, more to the point got him to write a list of everything that he wanted to say, then put together a few paragraphs, which he then altered and changed to say what he really meant...... I have a course, I have to go on for work, and been training someone up for his course. Then I've been doing my blog, which I am very proud of..... :o) And I am trying to write out the recipes I have done, I am a little behind with that project but slowly catching up.

Anyway moving on to these recipes.

We love stuffed mushrooms, if we are out to dinner and mushrooms are on the menu we always get a portion to share! We've had them stuffed with all kinds of things, cheese and bacon, spinach and cream cheese, ground beef, which is what inspired my next recipe, which I make if we have lasagne - I always make enough to feed the entire British Army (that's an exaggeration, it in fact is enough for 6 very large portions) I use some of the meat to make the mushrooms and bake them. In much the same way as the lasagne, which I bake at the same time but save for the next day and the next day and the next! Comfort food again at it's absolute best....... With loads of garlic bread to mop up the sauce. Of course at the same time, giving yourself putrid breath, great for keeping       people and vampires at bay. The lasagne recipe is a little loose because I prefer it that way, it should be easy enough to make it a little thicker, it does thicken up the next day though!                                                                                                      

1 Tbsp butter
250 ml sour cream or crème fraiche
500 grams ground beef
1 large onion, diced
200 grams sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp Evoo
2 Tbsp tomato paste
400 grams grated hard cheese (such as Cheddar)
200 ml milk
8 lasagna noodles
2 tsp corn flour
200 ml Vegetable stock
2 Tbsp Bisto Gravy Granules
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 garlic clove, minced
mixed dried herbs

1. Gently fry the onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft then remove from heat.
2. Fry the meat until cooked, then put all the ingredients in a large pan, add tomato puree and mix together add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for about 10 minutes add enough gravy granules for desired thickness, then add sour cream or the crème fraiche.

4. Melt a little butter in a pan and add the corn flour then slowly add milk, stirring constantly, add 200grams of cheese stirring until melted.

5. In a lasagne dish layer meat mixture, pasta until no meat is left finish with a layer of cheese sauce and top with grated cheese and mixed herbs. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Servings: 6

Cheesy topped stuffed mushrooms
4 portobello mushrooms
lasagne mixture
Cheese sauce
cheese to top

1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, stuff some of the mince mixture into each of the mushrooms.

2. Drizzle a little of the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle each mushroom with grated cheese.

3. Grill or bake the mushrooms until the cheese is melting and bubbling.
Servings: 2


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sausage risotto

Also from my School text book came this simple sausage risotto. I suppose with it being a childs school text book it should be. That said with everything I have read and seen on television, risotto is not that easy to make. So with that in mind I either have it down or I don't, in any case we quite like it, most definitely a simple supper.

Sausage Risotto
250 grams sausage
1 tbsp evoo
75 grams rice
1 onion, finely diced
100 grams mushrooms
100 grams frozen mixed vegetables
375 ml  hot water
1 chicken stock cube
salt and black pepper to taste
dash of Worcester sauce

1. Grill sausages until cook and set aside.

2. Heat the oil and add the onion and rice, stirring for about 7 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms, frozen vegetables, stock cube, water, sauce and seasoning, simmer gently until rice is soft and all the water has been absorbed.

4. Slice the sausages and add to the rice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dude She Got Me Legs!!!!

Ok so in late 2009, early 2010 my "kitchen antics" took a slightly over zealous, about turn, and I had a massive ooooopsy, this was a mistake, kitchen mishap it wasn't, because it never got as far as the end. My husband and I had been shopping, as usual we stopped at the fish counter in Giant, and as we were looking at the "specials" we found frogs legs, $4.00 for two pairs. We decided to give them a go, more accurately I decided to give them a go. As adorable as my husband is, he is clearly misguided, as he went along with my hackney eyed scheme. I am a very lucky wifey as my husband will go along with things to keep me, in a relaxed, happy and independent state, even if that requires eating frogs legs, despite better judgement. Now I am certainly not jesting anyone who eats frogs legs, I am sure they are perfectly Divine, "taste just like chicken" as the saying goes, however, and this is where my blond moment ensued - I was expecting one thing and got something else. They looked like frogs legs in the packaging - SURPRISE, what did you expect right? Ok so in all honesty I could see what I was buying. I took them home, looked up frogs legs and followed the recipe.........

In my mind I had this image of battered frogs legs, no longer looking like frogs legs, but instead looking like a mangled mess, or chicken nuggets? To my absolute horror frogs legs have BONES!!!!!! Hmmmmm... Go figure right - as I said a blond moment, I decided I could get passed this misconception and battered the legs according to the recipe, then started to cook them - which is when my mind started playing tricks on me and I could see the legs wiggling around in my skillet. Well then I had the image of poor little Kermit the frog sizzling away in my pan... With that in mind in Germany frogs are endangered, not sure why, I used to stop my car and help them across the road! Needless to say I stopped cooking Kermit's legs, wrapped them up and put them down the waste disposal shoot. Turns out my husband was grateful for my hallucinogenic episode, as he didn't want to eat them either.

Monday, January 23, 2012

School Chicken Curry

At school we had to take "Tech" which covered woodwork - boy was I bad at woodwork, Mr Cassidy would refer to me as "trouble" - mostly because if someone ended up with a drill in their thumb, due to forgetting to use the vice, it would be me, the kiddy hiding in the store cupboard, because of wanting to commit the ultimate school sin, of skiving off but not having the guts to actually do it - would be me, the student randomly sawing away at anything, was me!!! I really was very bad at woodwork..... We also did food Tech, which I did enjoy. We covered the basics of food and food hygiene, and made a few recipes, the only dish I really remember making though, other than toffee, was, ironically a stuffed bell pepper........ Ewwww icky, icky ick!!!! The point behind this tiny tale? I ended up somehow in possession of the text book we used (probably due to failure to hand it in) this curry came from that.. It's basic to make, not too hot and quite versitile, I've also made it with shrimp and lamb. 

Chicken Curry

500 grams chicken breast, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 onions coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp curry powder (more or less as you like)
250 ml vegetable stock
tomato purée
200 ml cream
salt and coarsely grounded pepper
rice to serve

1. Gently fry the onions and garlic, until soft add the chicken stirring until the chicken is browned.

2. Add tomato puree, curry powder, some of the stock and cream, salt and pepper to taste.

3. Simmer over a low heat until chicken is cooked through.

4. Serve with rice.

Servings: 4

I do sometimes I add vegetables to this, mushrooms and spinach in particular.

Chilli Con Carne

I apologise now for NO PICTURE boooo hissss to me.......... (Will add one at a later date)

I watch a few cooking shows, the two I really enjoy watching are, (Laurrie I apologise to you personally I know you don't like them) diners, drive ins and dives and Guy's big bite. I was watching Guy's big bite one night and watched how he made Chilli, I've since changed the way I make mine and it's for the better. I'm learning new things all the time about the way things can be done! When I first started making Chilli, in my mind it was made with mince, tomatoes, kidney beans and chilli powder, well the basics anyway. I now add chunks of steak and chunky bacon bits and jalapeno peppers if I can find them (Germany seems to rarely have them) It would never have occured to me, to do it this way. Guy did add a lot more to his but I didn't fancy the other ingredients, I don't really remember what they were, but it was probably bell pepper since I am not a fan?

Chilli Con Carne

225 grams ground beef
1 beef steak (not very specific I know, I just bought a steak chopped it up and stuck it in)
150g Chunky bacon bits
1 large onion
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Garlic powder
450 ml sieved tomatoes
425 grams red kidney beans
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp sour cream (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
225 grams rice
grated cheese to serve

1. Dry fry the mince, steak, bacon bits and onion until cooked (about 5 minutes)

2. Stir in the chilli, cumin and oregano for another minute.

3. Stir in the sieved tomatoes, beans and tomato puree, salt and pepper.

4. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, gently simmer for 20 minutes, add sour cream if desired, serve on a bed of rice, topped with the grated cheese.

Servings: 4

Sunday, January 22, 2012

About My Cooking Hobby, possible recipe organising tips

For the past two nearly three years, I've been on a mission to try as many recipes as I can and then copying the recipes into my notebook, I'm on my second now. I have started remaking some of the recipes from the first notebook, again, so I can get photo's of the food - in part because of my blog, as I am blogging the recipes in order that I made them, which is why some don't have photo's, but also because I have a computer program and I have been adding recipes to that too..... It makes them so much easier to share, rather than having to write them out by hand over and over again, I can just copy, paste and email.

Originally when I first started this 'hobby' I was making notes in my cookbooks, in pencil but I felt as though I was defiling them, which is when Glen suggested that I should use notebooks that way I could copy the original recipe but add my comments and changes, without ruining books. I don't know why I didn't think of it? I am happiest when I put pen to paper and can quite happily write for hours and hours. So it made perfect sense. There was and is of course an extra added bonus to this, all the recipes I have made are in one place. I would like to be able to sit here and say that this makes them easier to find, but to be honest I have a pretty good idea which book each recipe comes out of anyway. So in actual fact that point is rather irrelevant. A useful tip perhaps for someone who can't remember where they get recipes from, but are willing to take the time to write them out, you could also type them out on a computer, print them and then keep them safe in plastic sleeves in ring binders, I do that too.

I did say I was a little obsessed. It's most definitely a past time, something I enjoy doing as opposed to MUST do, that said I am not sure I could stop writing now if I tried. I can honestly say I am addicted. My addiction hurts no one other than my husbands bank balance, to write you need pencils, pens and notebooks and that's where my other "addiction" comes into fruition - stationery, which IS that bad, I must avoid the stationery aisles in stores at all costs, also Amazon and W.H.Smith websites, when I was in America, Staples, which I have since found out is in England too........ :o) big smiley faces, and Michael's, I seem to be able to find a reason as to why I NEED a new pen, diary, notebook, binder, etc.. I genuinely can't help myself and admitting I have a problem hasn't worked either. Glen finding stationery items in the shopping cart are usually accompanied by a "oooopsy, how'd that get in there" he never says anything, but gives me that look which says it all.... "Really, wife, do you REALLY, need that glittery pink ruler, to add to the three you have at home and why on earth do you need that purple pen which writes in purple, with that ridiculous purple feathered weight thing on the end, which makes it impossible to write with anyway"? The answer of course is yes I do NEED it, but even I realise I've no idea why!!! And the way I justify it? everyone has a vice, this is mine!

Alla Carbonara

Okay so I mentioned earlier about making this recipe in the same way that I make hollandaise. The first time I made this recipe I followed the instructions exactly, I've also tried making it on subsequent occasions following the recipe, which is how I know I keep making alla scrambled egg instead of carbonara. It originally comes from Italy, served as a 'primo' which means first course, it's basically a hot food, heavier than an antipasto, but lighter than the second course. It's also served as a main course though, traditionally made with eggs, bacon or pancetta and parmesan cheese, sometimes cream is used. Some variations of this dish would include, peas, mushrooms or other vegetables. Personally I don't usually add any extras, I prefer the simple 'plain' version, besides peas are in the 'take it but I'd rather leave it bin'. I do always have peas in the freezer ready to use, rarely.

Pasta Alla Carbonara

150 grams bacon bits
1 garlic clove, minced
30 ml evoo
25 grams butter
3 egg yolks at room temperature
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
30 ml dry white wine
80 grams cheese
salt and black pepper
400 grams pasta cooked according to package directions
1 tsp white vinegar

1. Heat the oil and the butter, add the bacon and garlic cook until bacon begins to crisp. Remove from the heat.

2. Beat the egg yolks with parsley and vinegar. Put over a saucepan and whisk until thick, slowly add the wine and cheese whisking constantly.

3. When spaghetti is almost done, gently re-heat the bacon. Drain the spaghetti then mix with the sauce and bacon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chicken and almond sauce

In an earlier blog I mentioned about making sure you read the recipe all the way through before making or even before deciding on making a recipe, just in case you need a piece of equipment, that you don't have, like say a food processor!!!! Which when I made this the first time around I didn't have, I didn't even have a rolling pin.... So I ended up trying to grind up almonds using a mixing bowl and a flat bottomed glass - unfortunately (no surprises there) this idea didn't work out to well. I ended up with toasted almond bits instead of an almond paste........ I would like to say that I had learned my lesson, however this is not the case, as I am sure you will find out. It seems I very rarely learn from my mistakes - husbands excluded....

Chicken With Almond Sauce

1.4 kg chicken breasts cut into strips
2 large onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
50 grams almonds
45 ml evoo
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
150 ml yogurt
300 ml water

1. Put almonds in a blender with the water (150ml) and work until smooth.

2. Heat the oil and add the onions, garlic and all the spices. Cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the almond puree and cook for 1-2 minutes, add the chicken and stir to coat in the spices.

3. Lower the heat, then add the yogurt a little bit at a time, followed by the rest of the water. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat, cover and cook gently for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

Servings: 4

Bacon, potato and mushroom gratin.......... Good for a cheap, quick and effortless meal

In my opinion this is a really good recipe, as you can see from the picture, the first time I made it, it was in a deep bowl, which kind of, well not kind of, it does defeat the purpose of the word gratin, from what I understand it is made in a shallow gratin dish and you brown the crust, I tend to do this in the oven, although I am lead to believe it's normally done under the grill/broiler.
There are three very good reasons why this is a good recipe         

1. It tastes good and is filling - that's two but I'm counting it as one.
2. It's quick and easy to make. I'm cheating here that's another two. 
3. It's very cheap to make. Didn't cheat that time.                              

Another one for my comfort food list.                                               

Bacon, Potato and Mushroom Gratin                                                

250 grams small potatoes
coarsely grounded pepper
1 small onion, diced
125 grams bacon, diced
30 ml evoo
125 grams mushrooms
125 grams cheese plus a little extra

1. Halve the potatoes, cook until tender and drain thoroughly

2. Cook the onion and bacon gently, to soften the onion and crisp the bacon add the mushrooms and cook stirring for 2-3 minutes. Pre-heat the oven, to about 200 degrees C

3. Put the bacon, onion and mushrooms into a gratin dish and stir in potatoes, season with pepper  and stir in grated cheese, then sprinkle a little on top. Bake until cheese is bubbling.

Sometimes I add more cheese depends on how cheesy my mood is.

Beef Stroganov

When my husband and I first started dating, we often went out for meals and a few drinks (a lot of drinks) definitely my fondest moments in life - sitting in a restaurant enjoying a nice meal and talking for hours about life. I remember thinking at the time if it was because the relationship was new, and we were both making an effort at making US work, nothing has changed though other than my chain of thought. We are one of the lucky ones, where little effort is needed to make it work, even when we argue, if you can call it that, we end up giggling and smiling at each other.......... Anyway back to the recipe. On this particular occasion my husband, Glen, opted for a fish dish (due to my fish bone phobia, I never eat fish when we are out) I had beef stroganov served with spatzle, I guess I made this recipe to try and recreate that night. We've had lots of good times together some just stick out for different reasons I guess. I found this one in a cookbook my mother gave me, Country Cooking. When I first opened it, I assumed country as in rural, not country as in country. It covers mostly Europe and North America and gives a small piece of information pertaining to each one. It really is a nice book and I've used several of the recipes, some of them are a little obscure, I suppose that's because they're foreign to me, but I love the fact each recipe comes with the proper name (translation underneath) and original spelling!!!!!

Beef Stroganov

500 grams beef strips, sliced
2 onions sliced
100 grams mushrooms, thinly sliced
lemon juice
70 grams butter
100 ml  sour cream
150 ml stock
1 tbsp brandy
1 ½ tbsp flour
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp mustard

1. Cut the meat into strips, mix the flour with salt mustard and pepper. Gently fry the onions in the butter. Add the mushrooms fry for 2-3 minutes; then remove from the heat.

2. Dip the meat strips in the flour and shake off any extra. Cook the meat in butter then add the onions and mushrooms with their pan juices. Fry on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring.

3. Pour in the brandy, set alight, then add the tomato puree. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then add the lemon and the cream, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Bring back to a boil and serve.
Servings: 4

Cheesy spinach cannelloni

Just to state the obvious if you are unsure what cannelloni (manicotti) are, they are long tubes of pasta which can be filled with all sorts of things, from cheese and spinach to any kind of ground meat, etc. topped with some sort of sauce and cheese, baked for about 30 minutes.

After I moved out of my ex's house I lived on cannelloni, I wasn't entirely sure what went in it...... It was a frozen meal with spinach, cheese and tomato sauce - plenty of garlic! That's about all I knew! When I found this recipe I was super excited because I could make it myself. Turns out it was inedible, however it was far from brilliant...... It took me awhile to want to try it again and I did some major recipe tweeking. This is what I came up with.

Cheesy spinach cannelloni

butter for greasing
18 no-precook cannelloni
30 grams Parmesan, grated
jar of tomato sauce
1 small onion diced
1 garlic clove, minced
500 grams spinach
2 cups ricotta or whipped cream cheese

1. Make the filling, heat the oil, add the onion and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes until soft, add the spinach and cook on a high heat for 1-2 minutes, then add the ricotta, or cream cheese which ever you are using and salt and pepper to taste

2. Grease an oven proof dish, spoon the spinach mixture into the cannelloni spoon on the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 30 minutes.
Servings: 4

Tortellini , mushrooms and bacon

You've got to love simple pasta dishes, if for no other reason than they are convenient and easy to make. Don't get me wrong I love cooking complicated and wonderful recipes, sometimes though ease is the name of the game! Pasta can be really tasty and because it goes with almost anything you can bung a bunch of stuff together and not worry to much about it. This recipe has all my favourite things in it.     
Bacon, mushrooms, leeks, cream and cheese, for sure this comes under another comfort food. I tend to drain off most of the fat from the bacon before I add anything more to the the pan, but not all because it adds to the flavour in my opinion, that's again my personal choice though, leave it all in or drain it all! Up to you entirely........
Goodness me, I hate this phrase but.............. Nom Nom!!!!!!

tortellini with mushrooms and bacon

500 grams tortellini
1 tbsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1 leek, chopped
175 grams mushrooms
250 grams bacon strips, diced
300 ml heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
grated cheese

1. Cook tortellini for 10-12 minutes, until tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil, add bacon, cook over a high heat until crisp, add mushrooms and leeks, cook until tender.

3. Drain the tortellini and return to the pan, add the bacon and mushrooms, cream, salt and pepper to taste, Heat gently for 1-2 minutes to warm through. Serve with sprinkled cheese.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Price Of Shrimp

One of the things I loved most about America, was the ability to go shopping and pretty much get everything I wanted under one roof. The only thing better than that, was the fish counter, catfish, tilapia, cod, salmon, tuna and shrimp, to name but a few. Oh my goodness the shrimp, big tasty shrimp, fresh ones. Simple things I guess please simple people, that or I just appreciate how lucky I was? Here in Germany you pay almost double for fish and it's all frozen and lacking in flavour and quality. I worked it out and I am paying $18.00 for a pound of shrimp, I was getting 5lbs for that in the States, admittedly it was frozen bargain Shrimp but it was still better quality, for fresh shrimp was paying around $7.00 per pound in America, I think or there abouts.

The reason for talking the price of fish? Shrimp tagliatelle, the thing I like about this recipe, is that it takes minimum effort to make it with all fresh ingredients, but looks and tastes as though lots of effort has been out into it. It's another one of those ones you have to admire for what it is. Simply put it's almost genius.

Shrimp Tagliatelle

2 tbsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
3/4lb (375g) mushrooms
1lb (500g) tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1lb (500g) tagliatelle
3/4lb (375g) prawns
1/2 cup (125g) light sour cream

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and the garlic, cooking gently, stirring for 5 minutes, until glassy but not browned. Add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat for about another 5 minutes.

2. Now add your tomatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer gently, until the mixture thickens

3. Cook the tagliatelle according to package directions.

4. Add the sour cream and shrimp to the tomato mixture and cook on a low heat until the shrimp are heated through

5. Serve the shrimp on a bed of the pasta.

Most disappointed as I don't have a photo to go with this one!! :o(

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meat Hot Pot

I had left over lamb from the night before, chops and mint hollandaise, but I wanted something else. I had all the ingredients to hand and figured I may as well give it a go! It tastes lovely if you like this sort of thing, but my opinion is that it is definitely a winter warmer. I kind of have this preconceived image of cold snowy weather outside, dim lights indoors with a crackling fire, or maybe that just makes me a hopeless romantic. Either way that's how this one and a few others make me feel. I guess I'm just having a love affair with food? Or prehaps the real love is for my husband and the food is just an added extra feel good factor? Our apartment in Virginia had dim lighting, in the evenings and because it was winter we often had the fire on, the atmosphere was already set, without any intention or effort, then with this ugly looking winter warming meal, it's definitely my ideal, I don't know about yours? Hmmmmm...... I feel kind of gooey inside good food and an even better husband to enjoy it with....

Meat Hotpot

2 tbsp evoo
2 lbs lamp chops
4 large potatoes, sliced
1 lb carrots peeled and thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
1 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper
1 bay leaf
2-3 cups vegetable stock

1. Heat the oil in a casserole dish, add the lamb a little at a time, and brown over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions, cook for 5 minutes. remove from the casserole dish.

3. Make layers of lamb chops and vegetables in the casserole, seasoning each layer with a little sugar, salt and pepper, putting herbs in the middle. Top with a layer of potatoes. Pour in enough stock to come up to the potato layer. Cover tightly with the lid and cook at 325°F for 2 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

4. Remove the lid from the casserole dish and increase the heat to 425°F and cook for 20-30 minutes longer to brown the potato.
Servings 4

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lamb Chops With Mint Hollandaise.

With this one I wanted to push my boundaries a little, in the past I had always bought hollandaise sauce, so I wanted to try and make my own. I was looking forward to a challenge!

 I was left feeling a little cheated, it wasn't difficult at all. To be honest I put this down to the recipe book I was using - "Classic home cooking" It's my regular go to cookbook, my husband bought it in Norway someone recommended it to him and I love it, he loves it and it gets used an awful lot.The recipes really are classics, all of them are in American cups and European measurements.
as well as subsectioned into different groups for example Hot and Chilled Soups, Fish and Shellfish, Poultry, Pork, Beef etc.

Each chapter then has an indexed glossary, picture thing with a short description of each recipe.

Subsectioned again into cooking times

I'll get to it later but I make my Carbonara sauce this way too because I always seem to end up with scrambled egg consistency, when I make it any other way. I'll give anything a try, but I am finding as I go along, easier ways for me to cook certain things, or just a different way to do something altogether, my mother taught me how to make cheese sauce, years ago, by melting butter then adding flour, then slowly adding the milk followed by the cheese. Using that as my basis I made all my sauces this way. I have since discovered that it's easier for me to make my sauce, then take some sort of cold liquid, vodka, milk, cream, water or port, add the flour to that, mix really well and then add to the simmering sauce, stirring constantly until it has thickened. I'm not saying by any means this is better, just that for me it's always a sure thing! NO LUMPS, BUMPS OR GOOEY BITS...........!!!!! Any way that's far more of a digress than I intended. So back to my lamb.

To be honest I kind of dithered slightly over the mint, yes mint does traditionally go with lamb, but with hollandaise sauce? Then I started wondering if the hollandaise would go with the lamb? Ultimately I decided since lamb was new to me, I had no idea if lamb and hollandaise were going to work and since I didn't know if mint would work with hollandaise, but knew mint worked well with lamb, I figured the only way to find out was to try, worst case scenario I end up calling for Chinese or Pappa Johns! As it turns out they all work very well together. Bonuses all round, I made my own hollandaise sauce, which inspired me to make carbonara the same way, and we had a nice meal - and you've discovered how oddly my brain works, and that really is how my brain works, each thought seems to trigger a chain reaction until eventually I come full circle with an answer to my quandary...........................!

Lamb Chops With Mint Hollandaise

4 Lamb chops
2 tsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Mint Hollandaise
2 tbsp fresh mint
salt and black pepper
a few drops of lemon concentrate
1 tsp white vinegar
3 egg yolks at room temperature
125 grams melted unsalted butter

1. Brush the lamb chops with a little oil on each side, season with salt and pepper

2. Grill the chops for 3-4 minutes - slightly longer for well done.

Mint Hollandaise

1. Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice and vinegar, put over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until thick.

2. Melt ¼lb (125g) butter adding a little at a time to the egg yolk mixture, whisk constantly until mixture thickens.

3. Stir in 2 tbsps of mint, salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Traditional Sunday Roast!!!

Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, is a traditional English Sunday dinner - Roast beef I pretty much have down to an art form, unfortunately the Yorkshire pudding is still a working progress, top tips are to make sure the fat is VERY hot and enough but not too much batter, more than that I can't comment on as I'm still being foiled by the little suckers. I haven't failed though as they are and always have been edible, they're just far from perfect... Unless you count Aunt Bessies out of the freezer department? Nah I didn't think so!!! ;o)

Roast Beef And Yorkshire Pudding

Beef joint
salt and black pepper
Yorkshire Pudding
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
2 beaten eggs
250 ml milk, plus additional if needed
Vegetable shortening

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. For rare: 350°F 15 minutes per pound, Medium: 20 minutes per pound and well done: 25 minutes per pound.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl make a well and add the eggs and a little milk, whisk the milk and the egg.

3. whisk in 125 ml of the milk drawing in the flour to make a smooth batter. Stir in another 125 ml of milk and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.

4. Put some shortening in each cup of a 12 hole muffing pan and heat in a 425°F oven until very hot, whisk the batter and pour into the muffin pan bake for 15 minutes or until well risen golden and crisp.

Liver And Bacon With Onion Sauce

This is probably one of my husbands favourites, and I make it about once a month, for that reason. I've altered the original recipe, so that I can eat it too, liver is one of my least favourite things to eat, but I am of the opinion, that if Glen can eat, and does eat things that I like and he doesn't, then I can make the effort to cook and eat things, that he does very much enjoy.

Before I made this recipe, I read somewhere that marinating the liver, before hand, in milk, was meant to lessen that really intense flavour, I don't know for sure if it works because I have done it from the very beginning and therefore have nothing to compare it to.

I make a stroganov out of mine, I stick to the original recipe for the most part but I add mushrooms (we both love mushrooms) and cream, which is totally dependant on the type of cream I have to hand, normal single cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, I'm not overly fussed. I also use bisto gravy granules, instead of beef stock and flour to thicken it! Not entirely a short cut because I prefer the flavour but I have to admit, it's easier than using flour as the thickening agent. Sometimes depending on my mood I will add a glug of port, it entirely depends on who I am cooking it for though!

Liver And Bacon With Onion Sauce

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
4 slices of bacon cut into thin strips
500g liver, marinated in milk over night
2 tbsps flour
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
Dash of worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil, add the onions and bacon to the pan, cooking gently,stirring now and again until the onion is glassy and the bacon has crisped. Add the liver and cook stirring for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon cover with tin foil to keep warm.

2. Add the flour to the pan and cook stirring for 1 minute, slowly pour in the stock, stirring constantly, bring to a boil, keep stirring until it has thickened.

3. Add the puree and worcestershire sauce, season with salt and pepper, then return the onions, liver and bacon, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

(this is also where I would add about 100ml single cream)

I normally serve this with Garlic mashed potatoes, but pasta, rice or boiled potatoes are equally as good.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blogger Burger........

I think most people enjoy a REALLY good burger! My husband and I are no exception, although not huge fans of the processed stuff...... We loved Five Guys Burgers though, the kind you'd find on that show "diners, drive ins and dives" with Guy Firer. In Germany you can buy this mix, it comes in a sachet and is powdered, you mix it with water and then knead it into the minced beef - it pretty much guarantees a moist burger. With that in mind I started adding a mittle vegetable stock to my burgers. One of our recipe books, "Classic home coooking" and it has a beef burger recipe which includes roquefort, (a rather very nice blue veined cheese, in case you didn't know) So with a mixture of Five Guys inspiration and my recipe alternative this is what I came up with.

Roquefort Beef Burgers

1lb (500g) ground beef
1 egg
fine bread crumbs (about 2 slices of bread)
vegetable stock aproximately 1 cup
1 medium minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
6oz (175g) roquefort

1. Soak the bread crumbs in vegetable stock, add the egg and onion, mix into a smooth paste, add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix the bread crumb mixture with the beef, a little at a time, you want the ground beef to be moist but not sloppy so take care. Divide the mixture into 8 balls, then flatten to make patties, place a slice of cheese on four of the patties, then top with the remaining patties. Press the edges together to enclose the filling.

3. Cook the burgers until they are brown and feel firm when pressed.

4. Serve in pita bread with green salad, or simply in a burger bun with your favourite kind of burger extras!


I made this next recipe because we love Chinese food, and I was feeling tentatively, apprehensive, about cooking something so 'exotic'. I was still at this point 11 months off buying my first and admittedly only 'Chinese cookbook' and it took a further 18 months or so before I had the guts to cook much else other than variations of this dish, which I will get to in another blog. So here you are - Chicken Stir Fry - Wow how exotic, right? Told you I started simple!

Chicken Stir Fry

3 tbsp evoo
4 scallions (spring onions) thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper seeded and cut into long, thin strips
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp port wine mixed with 1 tbsp corn starch
4 chicken breasts cut into strips
½ cup Vegetable stock

1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok or skillet, add the scallions and stir fry for 1 minute

2. Add the remaining oil, carrots and pepper, and stir fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes add soy sauce, port mixture and chicken strips and stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the stock and continue stir frying for 1-2 minutes until liquid thickens slightly.

Our personal preference was that this needed a little more soy sauce - again I am only including the original recipe used, I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, recipes are a guide line we all like different flavours, textures and smells - so all I can do is tell you what I did where and why, you can then make the choice for yourself, more or less, or something else?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fish, Fish, Fishy, Fishy Fish!!!!!

I love fish, my husband loves fish - my only issue is the bones. I'm not too squimish, so heads,eyes and tails don't bother me, but bones - Ewwwww NO thank you! You will find that 90% of my dishes are made with fillets or boneless cuts of meat for that reason. However every now and again I'll give them a whirl. Fish is the one thing which I have tried to 'get over' and just can't, so aside from one or two all my fish recipes are boneless and skinless or adapted to make them that way.

We love this following recipe and I have made it many times, Crispy Topped Seafood Pie, it's another versitile recipe which is why I for one love it, it can be altered anyway you see fit. I've used catfish, salmon, cod and haddock. Shrimp go in the recipe anyway but I'm guessing you could add crab, lobster or equally any kind of shellfish, and on the note vegetables are also open to interpretation. Personally I have only used the vegetables that came in the original recipe but the facts remain the same, use any vegetables you wish! As long as they fit in the pie dish and you like them, it matters not a jot which vegetables you use.

Crispy Topped Seafood Pie

500 grams fish (Salmon, swordfish, cod etc.)
1 ¼ cup milk
1 bay leaf
2 leeks thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
6 oz shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
Salt and black pepper to taste

¼ cup cheddar cheese shredded

1. Poach the fish in milk with  the bay leaf for about 10 minutes, until fish flakes

2. Blanch the vegetables, for 3 minutes in boiling salted water.

3. Lift out the fish, discard the skin and any bones, flake the fish. Strain and reserve the milk.

4. Put all the vegetables and fish with the prawns into a pie plate.

5. Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the flour and cook stirring for a minute. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the milk. Bring to a boil stirring until thickened, Pour over the fish.

6. Grate the pastry and sprinkle over the filling, sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes at 400°F (200°C)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Potato And Lamb Bake


Glen really enjoys lamb and until he cooked lamb chops for about 12 months before I cooked this I hadn't eaten lamb in at least 18 years - so this was another first for me. I own a V cutter and made the mistake of cutting the potato too thinly the first time around, so they stuck together into one massive clump and increased the cooking time (example number 1 of not reading the recipe properly) but apart from that it's really tasty, although probably best as a belly warming winter onepot! You could even serve this with hot Garlic bread to mop up those tasty creamy juices.

Potato And Lamb Bake

400 grams lamb loin chops cut into thin slices
flour for coating
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning
750 grams potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
butter for greasing
125 grams cream
1/8 litre milk
50 grams grated cheese
30 grams butter flakes

1. Coat the lamb in the flour shaking off any excess, heat the oil and fry the meat until crispy.

2. Heavily season the meat with 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper and the herbs.

3. Halve the second garlic clove and with butter, grease the casserole dish.

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (410°F approximately). Place half the potatoes in the dish season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then cover with the lamb and sage then put on the last layer of potato and season again.

5. Mix the cream and milk, pour over the potatoes and lamb, sprinkle the cheese on top, spread the butter flakes and bake for 50 minutes until potatoes are soft.
Servings: 4