My Long Absence

Just a short note to say that I haven’t forgotten everyone nor the need to update my blog. Some of you may know that I have terminal cancer and I have some days where I just don’t have the energy to sit down and write up the recipes or more importantly stand up, cook them and take photographs. The past few weeks haven’t been the best but I think the latest increase in slow release morphine is helping a bit with the pain, since I have been able to reduce the number of ‘top-ups’ I have had to take.

I was down to see one of my oncologists today and they have agreed to give me another blast of radiotherapy on Thursday. So that’s good.

I have just read what I have written and it sounds as if I am on my last legs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Generally I am up and about, perfectly happy and comfortable in the garden, down at the pub and going for walks. We always do some shopping everyday and just love the big supermarkets (but only the food sections). I will need to go through my emails and post a lot of likes and some comments to. Bear with me!

Christine and I are going up to Largs on the West Coast of Scotland, our home town, for a long weekend soon. We will be meeting up with family and friends and we are really looking forward to that.

We have also planned another long weekend, this time with our touring caravan, at the Beer and Food festival in Ludlow, Shropshire, England early in May. It’s about two and a half hours away so just a nice distance. We were there 2 years ago and had a great time. So we are really looking forward to that also.

Let’s hope that my next post will have lots of ingredients, photos and recipes to share.

Love to you all.

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DEAD EASY VEGETABLE STIR FRY

This was a spur of the moment meal. I had come back from a review at the hospital down in Oxford, about 45miles away, which went well, but couldn’t be bothered cooking anything complicated or time consuming. So nipped out to the shop and bought a pack of stir fry vegetables and a pack of baby sweet corn and mange tout. I also had a pack of Udon noodles in the fridge, still within it’s use by date.

I had a look at the contents of the stir fry pack and decided that it needed spicing up so added some garlic and some fresh ginger. I also needed some sauce so I mixed some Hoisin, Teriyaki, some sweet Chilli,  some Soy sauce and a little honey.

So here is what I did for the two of us:

Ingredients:

 

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  • Pack of stir fry vegetables, enough for
  • A pack of mange tout and baby corn
  • 3 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • About 1cm slice of fresh ginger peeled and very finely sliced and chopped.
  • 200g of Japanese Udon noodles
  • 2Tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tsp Teriyaki sauce
  • A good squeeze of Sweet Chilli sauce
  • 1 Tbs Honey
  • 1 Tsp Dark Soy sauce

Method:

1.  Heat the wok till it is very hot.

2.  Meanwhile mix the sauces together with the honey. Feel free to adjust the balance of the sauces to your own specific taste and put to the side.

3.  Boil a kettle and pour boiling water over the Udon noodles and leave until the vegetables are cooked.

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4.  Add a Tbs of oil to the wok and empty the bag of veg into the oil and stir constantly for about 2 mins.

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5.  Add the garlic and ginger and fry, stirring for another few minutes.

6.  Add the sauce mix and continue to stir until all is hot.

7.  Drain the noodles and add to the wok stirring until everything is mixed and hot.

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8.  Serve in hot bowls

How simple is that?

Unfortunately there was nothing left for tomorrow and we were both very full. But stir fried vegetables don’t really keep anyway.

The quantities were just perfect for 2 old fogies. 🙂

This will be one for my ‘Favourites’ folder. Definitely!!!

 

CHEESY BEEF & CHIPOTLE PARCELS

This is based on a recipe card I picked up from Waitrose with a similar title; however I didn’t have the 350g tub of Tomato and Chilli sauce. So what can I use as a substitute.

I looked in the fridge and found an unopened tub of Red hot Chilli Pesto with Tomato. However it was only 145g tub (not enough).

I then remembered that I had a lot of Mascarpone and Tomato sauce left over from a pasta dish, cubed and in the freezer so weighed out about 150g.

I still needed some more “liquid” so I decided if I’m going to keep the tomato theme then maybe a large splash of Tomato Ketchup would do the job.

I don’t know what the original recipe would have tasted like but I am not even going to give it a try. This was absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t change anything and I will definitely make it again and again. This quantity is for 4 people so I only wrapped 2 and kept the other half to wrap for tomorrow’s dinner.

So here is what I did:

Ingredients:

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1 Tbsp. Sunflower oil
1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
400g lead Beef Mince
145g Red Hot Chilli Pesto with Tomato
150g Mascarpone & Tomato Sauce
100g Tomato Ketchup
400g Red Kidney Beans, drained
1 Tbsp Chipotle paste
100g Cheddar Cheese
4 Large Tortilla Wraps

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Heat the oil in a large pan or Wok and cook the onion and garlic for 5 mins until beginning to soften, then add the beef and cook for a further 5 mins.

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2. Stir in the sauces, beans and chipotle paste and cook gently for 5-10 mins until the meat is tender and the mixture is piping hot.

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3. Spoon a quarter of the beef mixture onto the centre of each tortilla wrap and divide half of the cheddar between them. Tuck in the edges then roll up to form neat parcels

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4. Transfer to a heatproof dish and scatter over the remaining Cheddar. Bake for 10 mins until golden.

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CHICKEN WITH CHORIZO AND CHICK PEA STEW

This is an inexpensive, delicious and filling special meal for two.

Try serving it with crusty bread.

This was based on a recipe by James Martin

Ingredients:

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  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g butter
  • 4 Chicken thighs
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 lemon,  cut in half
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut in half
  • 100g chorizo, cut into small chunks
  • 1 red pepper chopped roughly
  • 1 stick celery chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 400g tinned chick peas, drained
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
  • 250ml/9fl oz chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped flatleaf parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Heat an ovenproof frying pan until hot, add half of the olive oil and half of the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the chicken and fry until just golden-brown.

Cut onion into 8 wedges and add 4 wedges to the pan along with the lemon and half the rosemary and thyme. Add the garlic, reserving two or three garlic cloves.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through.

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Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining onion wedges and reserved garlic cloves.

Heat a large frying pan or sauté pan until medium-hot. Add the remainder of the olive oil and the chorizo and cook for five minutes, or until the oil has changed colour and the chorizo is crisp around the edges.

Add the tomatoes, chopped garlic, onions, peppers and celery. Gently fry for a minute, then add the beans and the rest of the rosemary and thyme and cook for a further two minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the veg has softened and the volume of liquid has slightly reduced.

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Stir in the last of the butter and the parsley. Season to taste with plenty of black pepper.

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Ladle the beans into the middle of two plates, top with some chicken, then place a piece of lemon, onion and garlic alongside.

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This was an adventure. The original recipe had, chicken legs, shallots and haricot beans which I didn’t have. So I improvised by raiding the fridge and found the red pepper, onion, chick peas, chicken thighs and celery.

It turned out very well and I will definitely make it again.

This recipe was supposed to be for 2 but there was a lot left over. So no worries about what’s for lunch tomorrow or then again I might offer it to Susie my daughter.

Leftover Breakfast

I  was looking for a tasty breakfast and raked through the fridge and found a leftover Scottish homemade sliced sausage, half a red pepper and a piece of chorizo sausage. I always have eggs so a nice fry up will do the job nicely.

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Everything was chopped up, except the egg of course, and sautéed until almost cooked through.

I then thought that I could add an onion so chopped that up, sautéed it in an other pan until soft then added it the pepper and meat mixture. This was cooked out. Seasoned it with salt, pepper and a dash of chilli powder to taste

Then made a well in the mixture and broke two large eggs into it. Shook it a around a bit then covered it with a lid until eggs were cooked but still nice and soft.

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When that was done I slid the mixture onto a warm plate splashed some brown sauce, reggae BBQ sauce an sauced my own home made BBQ on the side.

Absolutely delicious and just what the doctor ordered.

COME ON THE REST OF THE DAY I’M READY FOR YOU!!!

Sous Vide Apricot Ginger Chicken

I am anxious to try out as many Sous Vide recipes as possible. I found a recipe for this Apricot Ginger Chicken in one of the many Australian Women’s Weekly Books that I have on my shelves. However none of the recipes are designed for Sous Vide cooking and I had to adapt it with all my ignorance and what I could find on the internet.

There are 2 good sites that I have found, one is quite technical but very useful Sous Vide Cooking, the other provides lots of recipes for this type of cooking  Sous Vide Recipes .

So here is what I did:

There was a sauce for the chicken, to be used after it had been cut into strips and browned in oil in a pan. I decided to keep the breasts whole and to mix the sauce ingredients together to use as a marinade.

So here are the sauce ingredients for 2 skinned chicken breast fillets:

  • 1 cm Root Ginger, peeled
  • 100ml Apricot Jam
  • 1 Tsp Dry Sherry
  • !/2 Tsp Dark Soya sauce
  • Pinch of Cumin

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The ginger was very finely sliced and then cut into shreds and mixed with the rest of the ingredients. The chicken was soaked in the marinade for about 2 hours before being vacuumed and cooked in my rice cooker with water brought up to 60 deg. C  on cook setting then turned to warm for 2 hours.

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When ready to serve I removed the chicken and cut open the packs, collecting the juice in a pan. The chicken was then returned to their packs and put back into the rice maker keeping the open end out of the water to keep warm while I cooked the sauce.

I added to the pan the liquid from the marinade and about 60 ml water, I had a taste but it was a bit bland so I thought of some other things to add. I remembered it was kind of chinesey so a dash of Pernod to get the aniseed flavour, a few squeezes of honey for sweetness, a dash of balsamic vinegar for sharpness and an extra dash of soy sauce for the salty flavour.

The sauce was thickened with cornflour, and served over the chicken on hot plates. I couldn’t be bothered cooking anything as a side so just opened up Tesco’s Onion Rings snack pack. And placed them artistically on the plate.  Oh really???

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I hate chicken breast, it is so dry and tasteless, probably the way I cook it. So I was absolutely GOB SMACKED when I cut into the chicken. I could have used a spoon. It was so moist and tender. Couldn’t believe it was chicken breast. I could go on, but it would be repetitive. I could go on but it would be repetitive…….

What a success. Would I do it again, what do you think!!!

I am so excited with Sous Vide I will be cooking so much in this method as long as the cooking temperature is 60 deg. C. Everyone should try it, it is so easy and so successful.

Watch this space

Kedgeree

On the plate with lots still in the pan

I was reading Jacqui Gourley’s post ‘Creamed Smoked Haddock
And it inspired me to cook this fish dish for dinner tonight. I found this recipe from the Hairy Bikers, slightly adapted.
Ingredients:

All the bits and pieces

  • 475g undyed Smoked Haddock
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 200g Basmati Rice
  • 4 Eggs
  • 100g frozen Peas
  • 40g Butter
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp medium curry powder or more if you wish
  • 3 Tbsp double cream
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper

Method:

Place the haddock in a large frying pan or wok, skin side up. Pour over 500ml water, add the bay leaves, bring to the boil then gently simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until it is just done and flakes easily. Drain into a bowl, reserving the liquor and discard the bay leaves. Set the cooked haddock aside .

Smoked Haddock cooking    Smoked Haddock Flaked

Add the rice to the pan. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the rice very gently for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice for 3-5 minutes more or until all the liquor is absorbed. If the rice is still not cooked add some water a little at a time until it is cooked.

Meanwhile bring some water to the boil and boil the eggs for 8 minutes. Drain them in a sieve under cold running water  until cool enough to handle. Peel carefully and set aside in cold water.

Cook the peas in boiling water and drain.

Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan or wok and cook the onion over a low heat for 5 minutes or so until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder and cook for another 3 minutes stirring constantly.

Fried onions with curry powder

Place the cooked rice into the pan and stir in the onions. add the peas, cream , parsley and a few twists of ground black pepper.

Finally cooked with boiled eggs

Flake the fish into chunky pieces and add these to the pan. Gently stir the lemon juice and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Cut the eggs into quarters and place them on the rice. Add a few cubes of butter, cover the pan with a lid and heat through for 2-3 minutes or until the eggs are warm, then serve.

On the plate with lots still in the pan