Friday, January 22, 2010

Recipes That Make Me Happy - 5

Spag Bol or Lasagne
(just make the red sauce for spag bol!)

Red Sauce
1 lb of lean minced beef
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
8 medium fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato puree/paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
black pepper
garlic salt (ordinary salt will do)
olive oil

White sauce (for lasagne)
2 ozs butter
6-8 ozs cheddar, grated
30 fl ozs milk
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp dried English mustard powder or 1 tsp of Dijon mustard (optional)

1 pkt of no-cook lasagne sheets or 3oz per person spaghetti

In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil and gently fry the onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic together until the onions go translucent (see though). Add the meat and season with basil, pepper and garlic salt. Gently fry until the meat is brown. Add the tomato puree/paste and tins of tomatoes. Refill the tin twice with water and add that too. Simmer the sauce until the liquid has reduced by about half.

For lasagne: While it is simmering prepare the white sauce. Melt the butter and remove from the heat. Add the mustard and cornstarch to make a paste. Slowly add the milk, stirring continuously and return to the heat. Stir continuously and bring to the boil on a medium heat, so it doesn't burn. Once it's thickened add the cheese and taste for cheesiness. Add more if it needs it.

Preheat the oven to 375F (180C). Into a glass dish place a layer of no-cook lasagne sheets, taking care not to overlap them. Add a layer of red sauce (about 1/2). Place another layer of lasagne sheets, again no over laps, then another of red sauce. Finally, add the last layer of lasagne and then pour the white cheese sauce over the top. Bake in the oven with a foil cover for about 45 minutes, then cook for the last 15 minutes without the cover.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Recipes that make me happy - 4

Chicken Korma

4 skinless chicken breasts (or de-boned thighs), chopped into nice chunky pieces (or one package of Quorn pieces to make it vegetarian)
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into squarish pieces
1 largish courgette, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into large squarish pieces
2 cloves of garlic (that's the individual pieces of garlic, not the whole bulb!), crushed
1 14 and 1/2 oz tin of chopped tomatoes (no salt and not stewed)
1 14 and 1/2 oz tin of light coconut milk
1 and a 1/2 tsp of garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tblsp chopped fresh leaf coriander, including stalks
1 tblsp oil, preferably olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil, turmeric and garam masala into a largish saucepan and heat on a medium heat until you can smell the spices. Stir in the onion, garlic and carrots. Let these sweat, keeping them moving every so often, until the onion goes translucent (see-through).

Add the chicken and stir regularly, allowing to brown slightly. Add the potato, coconut milk and tomatoes (if you're using Quorn, add it here). Cover with a lid and simmer on the medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the squash and simmer for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can let it go cold at this point, refrigerate preferably, then reheat later. Before serving, stir in the coriander, add salt and pepper if you need to and serve over steamed or boiled basmati rice (only takes 10 minutes to cook!).

My kids absolutely adore this! I change out one of the ordinary potatoes for a sweet potato mostly and I also make it with butternut squash instead of courgette. Makes it sweeter to the small person's palate. I also often leave out the chicken (or Quorn) and just have it as a veggie korma.

Recipes that make me happy - 3

Leek and Potato Soup

3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Knorr vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 oz butter
black pepper

Clean the leeks thoroughly. They grow them in sand and grit in your soup is horrid. Do this by cutting off the bottoms with the roots on and cutting off the brownest tops of the leaves. Slice the leek in half and rinse under the running cold tap, lifting all the layers to make sure there's no muck left.

Heat the butter gently to melt it in the bottom of a large soup pot. Throw in the sliced leeks and cubed potatoes. Grind some black pepper in; I like about 7-10 good grinds but you might like less. Gently fry for about 5 minutes, stirring gently every 30 seconds or so. Add about 3 pints of water and the stock cube. Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender. Add a little more water (or milk) if it seems too thick. Add some salt to taste for you.

You can serve this hot or cold. It's called Potage Parmentier hot or Vichyssoise cold! It goes almost like thin mashed potatoes if you let it go cold and my husband has been known to stick it between two slices of bread as a sarnie...

Recipes that make me happy - 2

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into big chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thinly
6 oz green lentils, washed
1 tblsp Garam Masala (look for this on the spice shelf in the supermarket)
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Black pepper
Garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Place butternut squash on a cookie (baking) sheet and drizzle olive oil over the pieces. Grind black pepper over the top and sprinkle with garlic salt (this can be the only salt in the recipe if you like). Rub the oil and seasoning all over the chunks until well covered and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender (when you put a knife in there is little or no resistance).

Place the washed lentils into a saucepan and cover with water so that there is about twice the amount of water to lentils. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, adding a little boiling water if it starts to run dry, until the lentils are tender (place one between your fingers and gently squish it. It should squish easily). Drain.

Whilst the lentils and butternut squash are cooking, heat about 4 tbsps of vegetable oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions. Allow the onions to fry slowly as you want them to caramelise (turn the sugars in the onions into sweet caramel) not burn. You may need to keep them moving with a spatula to make sure they cook on all sides.

Get a big soup pot and drain the oil from the butternut squash and the onions into the bottom. Add the Garam Masala and heat it gently, until you can smell the fragrant spices. Add the rest of the ingredients and 'wash out' (use a little cold water to rinse the flavours out) the cooking pans into the soup pot. Add about 3 more pints of water. Use a handheld food processor and puree (you can use a ordinary food processor, it just takes longer). Bring to the boil and turn down to a very gentle simmer (simmering is usually a medium heat; it's where the pan bubbles gently, seeing one of two small bubbles every second). Add salt to taste.

Serve with chunks of your favourite bread.

Recipes that make me happy - 1

Shepherd's Pie

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

3 large carrots (4 smaller ones), peeled and sliced
2 celery sticks, washed, trimmed and finely diced
Any other vegetables you like; parsnips and sweetcorn go well
1 pkg Smart Life soy grounds (or any grounds! Turkey, beef or Quorn)
good handful of frozen peas
6 medium large potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 stick butter
2 tsp mixed herbs (Italian or herbs de Provence)
1 tbsp cooking oil (I use olive oil)
1 tsp powdered vegetable stock or veggie stock cube (I use a Brit one called Marigold Golden Bullion!)
1 heaped tsp Marmite
2 tsps cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

Put oil into a saucepan and heat. Gently sauté the onions, celery and carrots (and parsnips if you're using them) with a couple of good squeezes of freshly ground black pepper and the herbs, until the onions are translucent. Add the package of soy grounds and break up (if using meat, brown thoroughly at this point). Add about 2 pints of water (I usually just 3/4s fill my large saucepan which I think is about 2 pints!) and bring to the boil. Add the Marmite and stock cube/powder. Turn down, cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes or until the root vegetables are tender.

While this is simmering, cover your potato slices in water, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Boil until tender. Strain (I often reserve a little of the potato water to add to the gravy) and return to the saucepan. Mash with butter and milk. Add enough milk that it reaches the right consistency, not too sloppy but not too thick either!

Taste the grounds mixture and add salt if you need it, which you shouldn't as the stock and the Marmite are both quite salty. Into a bowl/small saucepan, strain off through a sieve and reserve the liquor. Place the mixture in the bottom of a lasagne dish. Over the top add the peas (and frozen sweetcorn if you're using it). Over the top of that, spoon the hot potato. Using the back of a fork, smooth out the potato evenly. Brown in the oven using either the broil immediately or reheat the whole shebang at about 375F for 25 minutes, or until browned and crispy on top, from cold.

For the gravy, put the strained liquor (and potato water) onto boil. Taste (VITAL!). Add a little more stock and/or Marmite to intensify flavour. Put the 2 tsps of cornstarch in a cup. Add a little water to make a thin paste. Add to the boiling gravy whilst stirring all the time (or you'll get lumps!). Add more cornstarch if you want it thicker!

Eat on its own or with a side order of Collard greens/cabbage!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Switch plates

It's not the done thing to funk up rooms over here. When I came to do the playroom, I wanted to do a mural on the wall, like I'd done with my eldest's room in the UK and the back of the downstairs bathroom door (I WISH I'd got a picture of that :-( ). Instead, always thinking about selling the house on, I bought some plain wooden light switch plates and funked them up instead.

One of these days, I might do this for a bit of cash!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting Knitty - Eighth

Eighth piece:

Now, these hats were FUN! I have made five of them now and they are so very easy to make. I knit them in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran which is lush! These were the first thing that I've knit on the round, on a set of needles that are joined to one another. Again, this is a pattern that I have got off of the internet and it's worked out pretty well. It did have an odd cast on, I think it's called the chain link cast on, which makes the bottom of the hat more stretchy. It also has a wide rib cuff at the bottom, which again contributes to the stretchy bottom. I think I should have also made them a little longer, as they fit my kids pretty well, but the rest of us have bloody great heads and mine keeps popping off. I made one for my brother for Christmas. I did make it longer and it fit me better than mine did. He probably doesn't use it, but we get quite a lot of wear out of ours!