Double Recipe – Cranberries

21 Jan

I had some cranberries left over in the fridge and needed to use them up, which is where the following two recipes came in. They both use the same ingredients, and one follows the other really easily!

Firstly, frosted cranberries.
Add equal parts sugar and water to a pan and heat them until the sugar has dissolved. You could also add extra flavours at this point, maybe orange or lemon – just add some juice to the water. Allow the mixture to cool a little before adding your cranberries (it might be easier to do this in batches).
Stir so that the cranberries are covered, before removing from the pan with a slotted spoon and placing onto a cooling rack. (Don’t get rid of your sugar syrup if you want to try the following recipe). Allow them to dry for 1 hour.
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Spoon into a bowl/plate of sugar (whichever you like, they’ll give slightly different effects). Let them dry a little, it shouldn’t take long. They look so pretty! They can be used as cupcake decorations, on a cheesecake..
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They’re also good with cheese and crackers to ‘poshen’ them up! Which leads me to the next recipe…

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Cranberry jam/compote/sauce/chutney
Pour cranberries into a pan and add a little of your sugar syrup.
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Allow to simmer gently, adding more syrup if it starts to look a little dry. You can help with the mushing-down process by using a potato masher to squash the berries down (be careful, they pop!) and putting the lid onto your pan. When it’s all soft, it’s done! You can add more syrup to get the consistency that you want. You can use this in porridge, rice pudding, on toast, or as a chutney on cheese and crackers – spread some brie onto your crackers, add a little of the cranberry chutney and pop a couple of frosted cranberries on top.. Mmmm!
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Easy Cauliflower Cheese Soup

13 Jan

Forgot to take photos, oops! Use your imagination if you will, it’s a smooth cream-coloured soup with grated cheese on top!

1 onion
1tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cauliflower
3 medium/large potatoes
2 bay leaves
pinch of thyme
chicken stock cube
cheese of your choice, however much you like!

Chop your onion and fry in the olive oil until soft. Add crushed garlic.

Add all of the cauliflower in florets, along with the potato (peeled and in rough chunks).

Add the bay leaves, thyme and the chicken stock cube (crumbled). Pour on enough boiled water to cover everything. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes (everything should be soft).

Season and blend.

When serving, top each bowl with a layer of grated cheese.

Book Review: The Flavour Thesaurus – Niki Segnit

28 Dec

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I have had this book on my wishlist for more than a year, but this year my husband bought it for me as a Christmas present. The book is loosely based around the notion of a foodie version of a colour wheel, with different foods fitting into different ‘flavour groups’. The Flavour Thesaurus was the winner of  the André Simon Prize and Guild of Food Writers Best First Book and has received rave reviews from the likes of John Torode and Atul Kochhar (who, and this is of no relevance whatsoever, was spotted by my parents in an airport..)

What I really liked about this book was the back-stories of the food pairings – the little cultural/historical tales of how these foods came to be paired together or where they originate. This isn’t designed to be a cookbook, or a book which teaches you to cook. Instead it aims to suggest effective food pairings to give you the confidence to go ahead and create! I  love how the book looks – the colours on the cover are beautiful and the pink page edges are a welcome change from the usual white or worse, beige! There are also recipes scattered throughout the book. I think I will be trying out the Fitzrovia baked chicken and Pear and cinnamon sweet couscous as soon as I can.

The book is available on Amazon here, currently at £11.01 delivered!

Christmas Dinner

28 Dec

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This year we decided on a duck from Abel and Cole (much to the disappointment of my son, a traditionalist who believes turkey is the only meat for Christmas..). We also ordered our Christmas veg from A&C. It was delivered on the Sunday before Christmas, all in perfect condition, along with a very useful booklet full of advice and recipes.

We decided to prepare as much as we could on Christmas Eve (and I’m very happy that we did – it was a very relaxed affair on Christmas Day) – the potatoes (Rudolph reds – very festive!) were parboiled, parsnips and carrots were chopped and left in water with a squeezing of lime juice (I couldn’t find a lemon, but it did the job), and the duck was de-gibbleted as soon as we could work out how to do it. I then browned the giblets and prepared a stock for the gravy by boiling them up with some water, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns and carrots.

On the big day, we basically just threw everything into the oven (honey and olive oil glaze was added to the carrots and parsnips along with a sprinkling of cranberries). Food was enjoyed by all (even the aforementioned traditionalist), and the leftovers have kept us going for the last few days. I did in fact cook a second dinner of roast beef on Boxing Day and lazily decided to just repeat all of the side dishes for simplicity and to use up leftovers.

The desserts were made by my children.

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Chipolata and Beetroot Casserole

11 May

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Fry chipolatas to give them some colour.
Remove chipolatas and put into a slow cooker.

Chop 2-3 beetroot, 2-3 carrots, 1-2 red onions, 1-2 garlic cloves (numbers depending on your preference) and fry in the pan that the chipolatas were in, until they are tender. Add half a glass of red wine, a splash of balsamic vinegar, 2 bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to remove the alcohol.

Pour vegetables onto the chipolatas and add half a glass of apple juice and a big spoonful of wholegrain mustard. Season as you like.

Cook on high for 4 hours.

Fish and Chips

11 May

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Batter recipe:

100g self-raising flour + 150ml cold water + capful of cider vinegar + pinch of salt.

Whisk.

Coat fish in batter and fry.

Beef and Vegetable Soup (Slow Cooker Ready Meals)

3 May

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To save time, money and leftover vegetables, I like to pre-prepare meals in freezer bags and freeze them. Then they can be taken out in the morning, thrown (not literally) into the slow cooker and left all day with very nearly nothing left to do. The freezer bags can be prepared in bulk, as several different meals and it’s very easy.

I like to work out what I want to make with the ingredients I have, line up all of the freezer bags (I use gallon ones from eBay), then chop up all the vegetables at the same time and add the correct amount to each bag. Then I just write on the bag; what it is; what needs to be added at the time of cooking (usually water/stock); how long it needs cooking for; when it went into the freezer. All I need to do is cook some rice/potatoes/butter some bread and it’s done!

I wish I had an ‘after’ picture of the soup, but it was gobbled up too quickly! The recipe can be found here, where there are also more details and recipes. I pick up a lot of other freezer meal recipes on Pinterest.

Sausages with Mash and Leeks (and carrots)

2 May

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This week, I tried out the meat from Abel & Cole (with persuasion from a money-off voucher).Today we cooked these pork and leek sausages, and they were really meaty. Delicious with some carrots and mashed potato topped with leeks and gravy (I just added the chopped leeks to the cooked sausages in the pan, along with a cup of water and half a spoon of flour, and simmered it until the leeks were cooked).

Victoria Sponge Cake

26 Apr

Victoria Sponge Cake

Potato and Fennel Bake

25 Apr

Potato and Fennel Bake

We’d never had fennel before, but it arrived in our Abel & Cole box and I put it to use in this dish..
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I cooked it without the nutmeg, and admittedly had to pour a lot of the milk out because there was just so much of it left! It was lovely, although the leftovers the next day were distinctly more aniseed-y than it was straight from the oven. I think we’ll try something different next time we receive fennel.. maybe a soup?