Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dinner, 19/10/14: Steak and Ale Pie, Chantenay Carrots, New Potatoes

This was almost a team effort between Sarah and me - I made the filling for the pie, but she had to finish it off (add crust & bake & do the veg) as I had to go out to listen to Shostakovich and fetch Olivia. As one does. No photo of the veg as I forgot to remind Sarah to take a photo - this is actually cold, after I got home. It tasted nice, though - I heated up a small piece for a late supper - and there will be more leftovers for dinner tomorrow. 

Recipe: Hairy Bikers Superb Steak and Ale Pie, from their cookbook, Perfect Pies. Also found online here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Autumn Walk...


and berries


and turning foliage - yep, it must be autumn.  After our lovely lunch, we took our fairly usual walk --a nice circular (well, technically a loop I suppose) walk which manages to encompass horse stables, a wetlands and two cemetaries, all within an hour's stroll - and yes, we are still only 25 minutes from central London by train.  I love where I live!...

Not everything was autumnal yet - my favourite tree, for instance, has not quite turned yet, though you can begin to see some yellow in the leaves. 

There was still a bit of late blossom on the brambles

and a few wildflower stragglers.

The seagulls all seem to be coming inland, though - there was a whole colony of them over in the wetland area. 

And also over in the wetland area...

here we all are - a kind passerby took a photo of everyone together, which means you even get to see me, which is of course not usually the case - lucky me!

Couldn't resist sharing this photo of the children using the playground equipment...  A year older, but not any more grown up.20


Geoff's birthday, as I said before, so of course there had to  be dessert. Cheesecake is always a good idea, especially when there are people coming over.  The recipe I make is very similar to the excellent cheesecake my mother made when I was growing up, but slightly different in the topping mainly (and it has a bit of lemon in it, which I like). My mom's has a much thicker sour-cream based top layer, whereas this one is just a little contrasting layer. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same. And gorgeous! We had it with a couple of fruit compotes (bought, not homemade), but no photo of those...

Lunch, 18/10/14: Multi-Vegetable Paella, Hot Chorizo and Squash Salad, Fresh Courgette and Tomato Salad, Cornbread Muffins

Friends around to lunch today, and it was Geoff's birthday, so I cooked a little more food than usual, though not a huge amount (only two extra people). Our main course was Yotam Ottolenghi's Multi-Vegetable Paella, which I've cooked before and we all really like (except Olivia doesn't really like peppers, so that's always an issue for her). You can see the recipe for that over on the Guardian website. 

Here it is close up, before it was all stirred together.  It's really tasty - I think I almost like it better than paella with meat and seafood in it.

I also made Thomasina Miers' Hot Chorizo and Squash Salad, though I forgot to shave the pecorino on top - it was very tasty any. The recipe for that is online as well, here. 

And finally, a quick courgette and tomato salad, also from Thomasina Miers' book Mexican Food Made Simple. I didn't find this one online, so I'm including a dodgy scan of it here, just for you!

And I made some cornbread muffins with little bits of jalapeno in them - this is just my bog-standard recipe from my (very old) New Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I don't use this cookbook for most things, but it's my standby for American basics like cornbread, American biscuits, pancakes, piecrust (though really I don't need a recipe for that, I just make it), cobbler and so on. Oh, and my strawberry tart! For muffins instead of a bigger cornbread, I just put them in muffin tins and cook about 15-20 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dinner, 17/10/14: Potato, Cheddar and Red Onion Pasties

These are from my main source of recipes - Good Food magazine. (Recipe here). 

I didn't change the recipe except to make my own shortcrust pastry rather than to use bought.  Plus I increased the quantities a little because I made slightly more than 500g pastry. I think I put an extra carrot in - that was it. 

On the whole, we liked them. Geoff & Sarah felt they were a little too sweet, though Olivia and I liked the sweetness in principle. Not sure Alex had a strong feeling about that. We all felt, however, that there was too much chutney - it overpowered the other ingredients. If I make these again, I will put about half the recommended amount of chutney in. Geoff likes the other kind of pastie I make (with the wholemeal crust and the spinach and potato filling) better; the kids liked the regular shortcrust pastry on this one better than the wholemeal one for the spinach pasties, which they sometimes find a little dry.  I like having several kinds of pastie recipes to choose from - if I were feeling energetic or feeding a lot of people, I might even make two kinds in one sitting. But as I said, we'd definitely reduce the amount of chutney, so you can taste the vegetables more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dinner, 15/10/14: Spicy Caribbean Pork

Recipe from Feel Good Food (A Woman & Home magazine). Although they have a website, the recipe doesn't seem to be on there. 

This was a new recipe to us, and although it was easy, and tasted ok, it won't be a keeper. The flavours were good, and we liked the pineapple in particular, which helped juice up the spicy meat. I wasn't totally convinced about the baby sweetcorns - they seemed a little out of place, but they weren't awful. Main criticisms were that it was quite a dry dish, rather than saucy; saucy would have been better. But although I'm sure I could fiddle with it to make it saucier, there are so many recipes in the world, it's not really worth it, as far as I'm concerned.  I did like the rice, though (which wasn't in the recipe - I just fried a little onion, added some of the Cajun spice mix, then heated it through with a tin (drained) of black-eyed beans, before adding the cooked rice to mix. Worked better than some previous experiments with dirty rice or similar.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dinner, 14/10/14: Bacon, Potato and Sweet Potato Pasta

This is an old favourite (not sure how old - the recipe itself is from 2005, but not sure when I first cooked it), which I've made in many variations over the years - I think I've done it with actual pumpkin; I've certainly done it with butternut squash. At one point, we started chucking in some regular (white) potato as well, which adds a nice bit of texture and cuts back on the sweetness of the sweet potato or squash. It's a great way to use up e.g. 2 sweet potatoes left from a bag of them or half a butternut...

A friend asked how often I repeat recipes (the answer: not very often) - however if you asked any member of our family to name a dish we have "a lot", this one would probably get mentioned. I reckon we have this at least 3 or 4 times a year. Which, for us, is a lot.

I dug out my rather battered copy of the recipe (which I don't really need to use anymore, of course) and scanned it; it's also online in the Good Food archive

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dinner, 13/10/14: Butter Chicken Curry with Spiced Courgettes

With the autumnal weather, there is definitely more of the curry/casserole/stew nature of things in my cooking, and this curry was just the sort of warming, creamy thing that the miserable weather today demanded. The original recipe is from Olive magazine (a change from my usual Good Food, you might think, but actually, Olive is a sister publication - a spin off!) and I've found it online here

I didn't alter it much - the main difference is that I used a different kind of curry paste than what they mention (which is why my curry is more yellow and less red) - I used the mild one I had in the house, which happened to be korma. I used fat free Greek yogurt, so it's not quite as calorific as you might think, though there is a fair chunk of butter in there. It still tasted plenty rich, so that wasn't a problem. I also doubled it, more or less, as we certainly needed to feed more than 2 people. And I used bone-in chicken thighs - I always do that, and cut them off the bones myself as they are way cheaper than thigh fillets, and then you can use the bones for stock later. I notice looking at the photos that although I've got coriander in the fridge, I forgot to put any on - oh well - we didn't miss it!

It was lovely, and delicious and there's not even a tiny scrap left for lunch tomorrow. 

The courgettes are simply cut into chunks and sauteed; I sprinkled some mustard seeds and nigella on them while they were cooking. 

We are lucky that our local shop, which is a Middle Eastern specialist, has lots of excellent ethnic ingredients from various cultures, including their own home-baked flatbreads (they have tandoor style ovens), which we often buy to go with curries, etc. They also do other styles besides this basic, naan-type bread, but this one works best for scooping and wiping up that last bit of sauce.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dinner, 12/10/14: Provencal Beef Stew, Oven Wedges, Chantenay Carrots

Stew never photographs attractively, I think, though what really matters is the taste, and we really enjoyed this one. Even Sarah, who is not a big stew fan, liked it. Unlike with traditional stews, I didn't cook the veg with the meat - as there was a tomato sauce, I felt it would overwhelm the veg (often I just dump them in, even if not in the original recipe), so I just made the oven wedges and chantenay carrots separately. We all really liked the olives in this as well. It fed all of us, plus there are leftovers for lunch at least once (along with some carrots - yum!).

The recipe is from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley, and I did find the recipe online on Google Books, though I don't think the format is very reader friendly, so you get a proper scan, too.

Autumn cheer

A bit of redecoration on my kitchen windowsill today, while cleaning - decided it was time for some Autumn stuff instead of the very summery arrangement I had before. Soon it will be time for Hallowe'en decorations - but we only put them up for about a week. Just long enough for a little fun, without it getting really tedious...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dinner, 11/10/14: Spinachio Pie, Salad

This recipe is from the Abel & Cole Cookbook. For those not in the UK (or in the UK, but hiding under a rock for the past 10 years) Abel & Cole is an organic box delivery company. We don't get a box, but I did pick up their cookbook in a charity shop recently. Not sure I've cooked from it before, but this recipe looked like a nice change from my usual spinach pie, which is a more standard Greek-style pile with filo pastry and feta cheese. 

Verdict: lovely. Great texture, great spinacy flavour. Easy to make*. According to the recipe, it's equally good cold - I'll let you know after lunch tomorrow, as there are two small pieces left. 

I couldn't find the recipe online, so it's below, but if you are looking for things to do with spinach, there are lots of suggestions on the Able & Kole website which you might like to check out. 

*Top chef's tip:  If you are using the handy hint of egg-white washing the crust after it's been baked blind, be very careful when tipping the dish up to tip out the extra egg-white, because otherwise you might end up with the pie crust landing in many pieces in the bowl of eggs and have to start over again.  Just sayin'. I recommend brushing some egg-white on with a pastry brush instead. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dinner, 10/10/14: Mexican Bake, with salad

This is a sort of deconstructed enchilada or a "enchi-sagne" - a cross between enchiladas and lasagne - it's a layered dish with tortillas as the "pasta" and then a spicy bean mix between.  I did alter the recipe slightly - I enlarged it. In addition to the 2 tins of black beans in the recipe, I added two tins of kidney beans in chili sauce. I then only used one carton of tomatoes with chili, so it wouldn't be too gloopy. I also used just a few more tortillas, as the dish was quite big. We still managed to eat the whole thing...  Really simple to make and very tasty.

Recipe also online here (thanks to Sophie for finding the link for me!). 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dinner, 8/10/14: Chorizo Pilaf, with Okra

A recipe we've had before (apparently in November, 2013), but with the addition of okra in the dish, because Geoff and I like okra and I thought it wanted some more veg in it. I let the kids pick it out - usually I'm a lot meaner about vegetables but I appreciate okra is an acquired taste (or not, as the case may often be).  This one comes from Good Food magazine, my favourite recipe source, and you can find it online here, or in the scan below.