Foodie catchup

Apologies for the gap over the weekend – I was out for dinner:) So just a quickie catchup today continuing the exploration of the new pressure cooker as I was intrigued and excited to have done sausages in there – a bit of water in the bottom then the sausages and onions in the trivet basket for 8 minutes at pressure and they tasted really lovely, very juicy and succulent – helped that they were turkey and chilli sausages rather than just boring old pork ones:)

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Pressure Cooker trials continued

So after yesterdays purchase of a new pressure cooker tonight’s dinner was pot-roast chicken with steamed vegetables all nice and tasty and cheap. It was the first time I’d tried anything like this in a pressure cooker as I usually just use them for stocks and soups and gammon and even then I haven’t owned one for the last few years so all in all it was a new experience for me. First I browned off the outside of the chicken to seal it by dribbling a tablespoon of oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker and allowing to get really hot before rolling the chicken around until all sides and ends are a good brown colour (a couple of minutes on each side seemed to work fine) before creating a trivet of carrot pieces and adding a couple of mugfuls of a decent chicken stock. After sealing the pressure cooker up I allowed the steam to build up to pressure and timed 25 minutes for cooking, during which time I boiled some potatoes in the bottom of my steamer and when the timer went I steamed some carrot, leek and parsnip for another 5 minutes while at the same time adding some broad beans into the bottom. When the chicken came out it was gorgeous and juicy (in fairness it was from the Morrisons “Extra Tasty” range) and I’ll definitely be experimenting more with my trials comparing pressure cookers and halogen ovens – I’m still interested in hearing more views on them please?

Fish, a healthy start to the year

So for those of you that have read Healthy food tips will have realised I’m trying to fit in more fish than I’ve had recently so tonight is a double whammy – smoked kippers and trout with boiled new potatoes and steamed cauliflower. I’m going to assume you can managed the potatoes (reduced price new potatoes) and (reduced price) cauliflower yourselves? I’m fortunate enough to have been given many years ago a thick bottomed hob top three-tiered steamer which works well for me and is tried and tested (and “no” I still don’t add any salt).

For the fish then… nothing too complicated, my preferred method of fish cooking is to wrap in foil with a small knob of butter, a grind or two of seasoning, a splash of lemon and a tablespoon of boiling water per fish fillet and into the oven for quarter of an hour at a moderate heat. Quick, simple, retains flavour – trout and kipper both have fantastic flavour and again, as with all fish, I regularly pick up reduced price fish in the evenings at the larger supermarkets – especially those with fresh fish counters.

Turkey Curry Recipe – use #7,632 for leftovers

Ok so following on from this mornings post you’ll know I’ve got a fridge full of leftover Turkey – well hasn’t everyone at this time of year – so even though I’ve so far munched on a couple of hundred turkey sandwiches and several platefuls of bubble and squeak so tonight I decide it’s time to do a curry…

So I’ve chopped up an onion and stuck it in a stock pot with a couple of chopped up garlic cloves to start frying up while I peel, de-seed and cut up a butternut squash into a bowl, added to this is a cored and chopped cooking apple, a couple of chopped sweet potatoes and a cup of raisins. Once the onions and garlic have got to the translucent stage I add the spices – 2 teaspoons of Patak’s mild curry pastes, 2cm of chopped and grated root ginger – and the vegetables. A quick stir later and I add a pint of gammon stock (another left over from Christmas day)another quick stir and then its built up to the boil and left for 20 mins to simmer stirring occasionally. At the end of that time I checked the veg before adding the cold turkey for another 10 minutes of cooking while the Naan bread also warmed up in the oven. Served with a big dollop of creme fraiche. Nice and simple but also nice and tasty – and pretty much everything was a left over anyway:)

Coming down from a Turkey “high” – Christmas Dinner

Ok ok I know – my bad for not writing sooner but its been the usual manic time over the Festive period between shopping and cooking and wrapping and relatives and cooking and suffering from over-eating and making merry there hasn’t been much spare time but yes you are right I should have made time.

But enough – time to more forward – hoping you all had as good a Christmas as I did – I loved every moment of mine for many reasons, loads to be thankful this year so it was a really special time anyway even without the usual magic of Christmas and, of course, the good food:)

Only going to cover the actual Christmas day meal in this post and then I’ll write more this evening:)

Starters – Salmon Terrine Managed to pick up a full side of salmon for only £3 at Morrisons on the 24th. I wrapped this in foil with a knob of butter, a few dashes of lemon juice, a tablespoon of boiling water and sprinkle of dill. This parcel went into a hot oven for about 20 mins (I checked it at 15 but it was a thick piece and not done to my liking) and allowed to cool just enough to handle and flake into a bowl. While still hot I stirred in several large tablespoons of low-fat Asda cream cheese with garlic and herbs, some ready cooked prawns chopped into small pieces (at this stage I also considered chopping in some spring onion in but wasn’t sure about all the other guests liking it so I used them to decorate instead)
This mixture I then layered alternately with cooked asparagus in a bread tin mould which I’d already lined with smoked salmon ready for serving with a light salad and brown toast.

Main Course – Turkey Roast – “with all the trimmings”
Not going to dwell too much on this as there was no real rocket science to most of it so here’s the list of what we had and then I’ll expand on a couple of the items:

  • Roast Turkey
  • Baked Gammon – see below
  • Sausages and Bacon
  • Homemade Chestnut Stuffing – see below
  • Roast potatoes and Roast Sweet Potatoes
  • Various Mixed Vegtables (mainly steamed with no salt)
  • Sprouts with Fried Bacon
  • Homemade Bread Sauce and Gravy

Baked Gammon
Boiled this up in my slow cooker for about 3 hours in cider with a handful of cloves, peppercorns and a quartered onion before removing the skin/rind and smearing the fat with a mixture of clear honey and mustard and baking in a hot oven for about 35 mins to glaze over.

Chestnut Stuffing at the Top

Chestnut Stuffing
Hardest part I find is peeling all the chestnuts to begin with, yes I know you can buy them ready cooked and peeled but buying them whole and raw from a market stall is about a tenth of the price (seriously – got loads more for less price) Chestnuts can be boiled or roasted/baked both styles give different flavours – baking tastes more nutty where-as boiled gives a more meaty type flavour – If I’m eating as a snack/saturday tea in front of the TV then I personally prefer to boil in heavily salted water and then eat while still hot with a knob of butter. But for cooking with I bake of in the oven – small slit *on the curved side* of the shell of each fresh chestnut and then onto a baking try in a medium oven for about 15 minutes until sizzling and cracking. Then there’s nothing else for it than to sit there for hours peeling them all (I did a large bag as I love the taste – brings back many happy childhood memories) Then just mix them (roughly chopped) in with bread crumbs, chopped onion, crushed garlic, mixed herbs and some pork sausage meat. Knead all this together with your hands (squidgy but the best way) then bake off in a hot oven for about 40 mins depending on how you have decided to present your stuffing – balls, block, candy bar etc – personally to accompany roasts I put mine in a pie mould and slice up:)
Sprouts
You cant have Christmas dinner without at least mentioning sprouts – I’m not a great fan (but will eat them) so I like to liven them up a bit with some bacon – boiled up the sprouts for a few minutes before draining and popping into a frying pan where I’d have some sliced up bacon frying in butter(ok so maybe I’m having a day off from healthy) to finish off:)

Baked Alaska

Of course Christmas dinner isn’t Christmas dinner without the pudding however the Wife’s families tradition is to have Christmas pudding on New Years so they don’t get over-stuffed on the day. deciding that this was a good idea so I needed an alternate which was light, fun and easy so settled on Baked Alaska with a home-made vanilla ice-cream, and of course Christmas crackers, Coffees and teas to follow.

Anyway, to anyone reading – I hope your Christmas was as happy as mine with plenty of good food and good cheer, here is to a second weekend of celebration over the new year and a fabulous 2012:)

You’ve just gotta love 24hr supermarkets…

…especially at this time of year:) its 5am in the morning of the 23rd and had the ENTIRE supermarket completely to ourselves so nice and easy to stroll around and finish the entire food shop without crushes, crowds or problems and with loads of staff eager to help (even if they thought I was mad) – just a shame they weren’t also in my kitchen to help with the unpacking too:)

Anyway – off to bed now that everything is squared away – I’ll do a fuller post in the (later) morning when I start some of the prep work:)