Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jan 31st: Goan Prawn Curry

Recipe Source: 30 Minute Indian, Sunil Vijayakar

Tasting Notes:  This is a dish we've had several times before, though not recently as I tend to get complaints from at least one child about prawns (it's getting better, though). It's very flavourful and quite spicy, but in a good way, according to my young critics!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jan 30th: Tagliatelli with Sausage and Porcini Mushrooms (new)

Recipe Source: Gino's Pasta, Gino D'Acampo

Tasting Notes: Recipe said this serves 4 - we think it might even serve 6, if you used an appropriately larger amount of pasta, as the sauce was very rich and coated the pasta well. A great, deep, earthy flavour, thanks no doubt to the porcini mushrooms. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crafty weekend

The kids have been very crafty this weekend (well, two of them. One of them has been away all weekend.). First, Alex and Olivia made these cup warmers to go around their mugs (Alex stitched his, though I helped a lot with placement and pinning). 

Then Olivia used some of the fleece she got at a recent sale to make two cushions and a pillowcase (the other cushion is blue and she gave it to a friend for her birthday, so it's not here in the photo).

And she finished up this owl kit she bought somewhere - can't remember where - which she started ages ago. She put the feet on kind of sideways, but decided she actually liked it that way, so left them (and it's not just laziness - she can be a real perfectionist about these things, trust me!)

Jan 29th: Pears in red wine (new!) with vanilla ice cream

Recipe Sources:  Pears - Good Food Magazine, Dec 2011 (Michel Roux Jr); Ice Cream - Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Dessert Book.

Tasting Notes:  The pears were gorgeous - after this photo was taken, I poured some of the sauce around the pears, which made it look even better. They were just right in texture - lovely and soft (you could cut them with a spoon) while still being a bit resistant to bite.  The recipe only used 6 pears but mine were fairly small and we had more than 6 people, so I just did the number that would fit readily in the pan. I probably could have done two or three more.  We'll definitely do this again.  The ice cream is my standard vanilla recipe, I make it a lot. In fact, it took me a while to find in the recipe book because I never use the book to make it!  I also use this recipe for fruit ice creams - for instance, blackberry in the summer - I just add a bit less milk to the recipe and use the fruit juice instead, maybe reduce the amount of vanilla.

Jan 29th: Deep dish chicken pie with mushrooms (new!)

Recipe Source: The Hairy Bikers: Perfect Pies

Tasting Notes: Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of this one!  It was delicious, though.  We had friends around for lunch, and I simply wasn't thinking about it. Served it with courgettes, chantenay carrots and tiny baby new potatoes. Yum.  I added a bit more chicken than in the recipe and about doubled the mushrooms, as I knew it would need to feed quite a few people. And I slightly increased the amount of liquid as well to compensate for the extra filling. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jan 28th: Vietnamese Pork in Savy Cabbage, Dumplings, Pak Choi with Oyster Sauce

Recipe Source:  unknown. I got it off a slowcooker recipe list in 2004 (apparently, according to the printout) but it wasn't an original recipe of the person posting it, and the source isn't quoted, as far as I can tell.

Tasting notes: I've made this about a billion times, as we all like it. However, I've never made it in the slow-cooker; I just use a steamer (so have modified the directions bellow accordingly). I usually add a bit of grated carrot to the mix. And we prefer the sauce with less lemon juice in it.  The rolls work ok cold the next day, as well, if there are any left.  The dumplings aren't homemade; they come from the Chinese supermarkets. And the pakchoi is just stir fried a little then steamed with some oyster sauce.

Vietnamese Pork in Savoy Cabbage

20 Leaves Savoy Cabbage


500g lean ground pork
1 medium carrot, grated (optional)
finely chopped Savoy Cabbage (if you have some left after removing leaves) (optional)
1 small tin water chestnuts, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
2 tbsps chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp Chinese hot chili oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt


1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp lemon juice (we use less)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp chili oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh mint

1. Drop cabbage leaves into boiling water and cook 1 or 2 minutes until pliable. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop cooking; drain well.  Trim the thick end of the stem where necessary on each leaf, to allow them to roll.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Place about 1 1/2 tbsp mixture in centre of each cabbage leaf (or more or less according to size of leaf). Roll to enclose mixture.

3. Place rolls in bamboo steamer (2 tiers of an 8" steamer will fit, if you stack some on top); alternatively place on crumbled foil or trivet inside a large saucepan, stacking if necessary. Add a small amount of boiling water (not touching rolls), pop lid on and steam until cooked, 20-30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make sauce. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes, pour over cooked rolls or serve in small dishes for dipping.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jan 26th: Jerusalem Artichoke and Carrot Soup (new)

Recipe Source: New Covent Garden Company - A Soup for Every Day

Tasting Notes: I have another Jerusalem Artichoke Soup recipe I usually use (from Lindsey Bareham, A Celebration of Soup), and although this one doesn't necessarily improve on the flavour (it's a little sweeter, no doubt due to the carrot) we really liked the grated carrot added at the end - nice texture.  As usual, I just scrubbed the JA's - far too much like hard work to peel them and the peel is no trouble, just makes some brown flecks in the soup.  I didn't do the garnishes. But I'm sure they would be nice!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jan 25th: Linguine alla Amatriciana (new!)

Recipe Source: Gino's Pasta by Gino D'Acampo

Tasting Notes: Yes, the astute observers among you may have spotted that this is actually spaghetti alla Amatriciana - due to my having rather less linguine in the house than I thought I did. Not very different to be honest.   We all enjoyed this - it's quite spicy, but not overly so. Very saucy, but not in an overwhelming way. I might put a second onion in; one wasn't much by the time it cooked down. Of course mine might have been smaller than the "large" red onion specified anyway.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jan 24th: Chicken Korma (low fat version!)

Recipe Source:  Top 200 Low Fat Recipes (Judith Wills)

Tasting Notes: a family favourite. We actually prefer this version of chicken korma, which is spicier (though not hot, just things like cinnamon and cardamom) and less creamy than your standard, to what you often get. The recipe apparently serves two, so I tend to more or less double the spices in it, and I usually use 4 chicken breasts (rather than thighs) for 5 people. I also usually use 0 per cent fat Greek Yogurt in place of the natural, as it's creamier that way. I stir it in right before serving, after it's been taken off the heat.   We also usually use more cashews than this recipe says.  But as creamy curries go, it works out fairly low fat.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jan 22nd: Dessert! Key Lime Pie (new)

Recipe Source: BBC Food Website

Tasting notes: Very good, very easy. Crust perhaps a little thicker than it needed to be. Didn't make the crystallized lime zest.

Jan 22nd: Red pork curry with green beans

Recipe source: Good Food Magazine, date unknown.

Tasting notes: we always enjoy this. The first time I made it, we felt the palm hearts got a little mushy, so I now add them right at the end and only leave them in long enough to heat through.  I usually only use about 2 tsp red curry paste as it's a bit spicy for the kids otherwise.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jan 21st: Peppered mushroom & Stilton pie (new)

Source: Good Food Magazine, April 2009

Tasting notes.  Stunningly good. I made one large pie as I don't have individual dishes. Used two types of mushrooms - regular white mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms. And used a bit more than in the recipe, as I knew the dish would be larger volume than four small pies. Couldn't find green peppercorns in brine, so just used some crushed dried green peppercorns.  Didn't serve this to the kids, who had pizza instead - a dish entirely composed of mushrooms is pushing things a little far, even for my relatively good eaters.

Jan 20th: Fresh Tomato Lasagne with pesto

Recipe Source: Good Food Magazine, unsure of date.

Tasting notes - be sure to use a large lasagne dish, as this takes up lots of space. I usually cut the cherry tomatoes in half rather than leaving them whole. 

Jan 18th: French-style Chicken with Peas & Bacon

Recipe source: Good Food Magazine, not sure of date

Tasting notes: Often use pre-cut lardons of bacon instead of streaky - they are slightly thicker and chewier in the finished product. Usually serve with mash, as the sauce is lovely with mashed potato. 

Jan 15th: Cauliflower and broccoli canneloni

Recipe source: uncertain, but not Good Food, I think - doesn't look like their font.  OK, found the recipe on the Food Network website as well, and it's by Jamie Oliver, which means I probably got it from Sainsbury's Magazine.

Tasting notes: we love this. Found it a little gloopy the first time, but better the second, I think I used a little less passata - maybe 500g instead of 700g.  I've done this with both lasagne sheets and canneloni tubes, and it's good both ways. It really does take the prep time it says - and maybe a little more - the whole process of making the veg puree is a little time consuming, but once it's in the oven, you can just leave it. Once when I made it, I didn't have enough creme fraiche, so I just made a small amount of white sauce and used that with what creme fraiche I had. 

Jan 11th: 5-spice Chicken stir fry (new)

Recipe source: uncertain, but from the font, looks like Good Food magazine. 

Tasting Notes: although the photo looks a little blah, this was actually very tasty. All the kids enjoyed it, despite the courgettes (which often get a little complaint from at least one child - but in this recipe they were quite firm and crunchy still). Very easy.  Olivia thought something like cashews would add a nice crunch to it, so we might try that next time.

Jan 9th: Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Recipe Source: A Soup for Every Day, New Covent Garden Food Co.

Jan 8th: Wholemeal spinach and potato pies, salad

Recipe source: Good Food Magazine, April 2009.

Tasting notes: this photo shows the pies made with white flour, as we were out of wholemeal, but we usually use wholemeal and all agree the texture is slightly better that way. I usually use more spinach (and sometimes more potato) than specified in the recipe. I don't use the cream, but it tastes lovely anyway.

Jan 4th: Chicken with chili & basil

Recipe source: Good Food Magazine, October 2003. I also have this recipe in the book Ken Hom's top 100 Stir-Fry Recipes, published by BBC books. An excellent book - highly recommended.

tasting notes: We usually add beansprouts to this, and often only use 2 chilis, though as the kids get older, I am often increasing the number of chilis I use in cooking. Served with Jasmine Rice.

Jan 2nd: Crusty Broccoli & Pasta Bake (with ham)

Recipe source: Good Food Magazine, May 2004

The first time we had this, we enjoyed it and thought it would also be a good way of using up leftover ham, so as we had ham on NY's day, with lots of leftovers, we tried it - success!

What's for dinner

Given how bad I am at update this blog, and given how often I post food pictures and recipes to Facebook,  I'm going to try something new for 2012, which is to share those food recipes and pics here (as they will make their way to FB anyway, this way). I 'm not going to do it every day (although I will keep a list of what was for dinner every day in the sidebar, for a month (I've been keeping a list this year anyway) - and do a round up at the end of each month) partly because sometimes, it's just not that interesting. Especially on some weekdays when we have lots of conflicts and end up eating leftovers or everyone just getting something for themselves. But we do eat as a family a lot and are interested in food a lot, so there's a lot of what I consider to be interesting home cooking.

Wherever possible I will provide a recipe, including citation as to cookbook or source, though with magazine recipes I don't always have that info. Hopefully this will encourage you to look out for good cookbooks to try for yourselves! And hopefully it will encourage people to try some new things for themselves and their families...  To start with, I'll go back through January and add some recipes and photos, then in future, I'll try to do it on or near the date itself. It should be fun, I hope.

I'll make a note if it's a new recipe we are trying (though I'm not going to blog about the recipes that we didn't really like and aren't keeping) and of course, if there's anything I mention in the sidebar but don't put up a blog post about, just ask and I'll tell you what I can - stuff I cook from memory or make up on the spot, I'm not going to blog unless asked or unless I photograph it for some other reason!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Farnham Maltings

Farnham Maltings is a combination sale and quilt show - this year, bigger than ever, it included some displays from beading and lacemaking guilds. I absolutely couldn't resist photographing this amazing beaded Dr Who display - Alex and I just loved it!  Isn't it great?

He and Olivia both took turns having a go at some lacemaking as well.   And of course, quilts were admired and fabric was purchased, too.