Monday, January 10, 2011

One word.........

The critic and  I have been at either ends of the food spectrum since I started this little journey. That is until last night. The two of us reached a point in our ongoing battle that signaled a truce if you could call it so. Now normally if I even dare to think of along those lines I am proven oh so wrong on many levels. 

Last nights result with dinner scared me. It was probably a once off occurrence. An alignment of planets or some such where things swung my way.

I didn't tread lightly. Ha I never do. Tonight's dish was lamb with spring vegetables.

I grabbed a few lamb steaks, seasoned with salt and pepper with a little olive oil and cooked them for a few minutes both sides. Once cooked put them on a plate and covered in foil.

Now onto the vegetables. Cut up a bunch of spring onions roughly, 150gr of green beans, add some olive oil to the pan where the meat was cooked, and throw in the above vegetables. Cook until glossy. Add 150gr of frozen peas, two baby lettuces and 185ml of chicken stock with a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer till the vegetables are tender.

Cut the lamb and serve with the vegetables.

Again the meal went down well for my wife and I. The green beans could have been cooked a little bit longer, was my main sticking point but other than that we were happy. The critic on the other hand enjoyed it as well. Knock me over and call me shorty.

I better clear things up. She didn't enjoy the lettuce but the green beans, peas and lamb she ate. She even asked for some of the juice that the vegetables were cooked in. Didn't try it but she asked !


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The critic was silenced.....

Today was a bit of a low key day. Nothing that pointed to the momentous occasion that was to happen later in the day. Planned was a Garden Summer Pie for dinner. I didn't hold much hope of any love from the critic but then that was now like water off a ducks back.

The day started like normal for me now. Ever since starting this little journey, most days I find that I'm either running out of time or ingredients or I'm running around for ingredients. Today was the later. Two trips. Two trips to the supermarket to get four ingredients. Got a brain like the mash potato I made tonight.

After finally finishing the running around and with help from my wife we got the meal started.

Cut chicken breast or thigh into chunks and in a little sunflower oil, brown on the stove. Finely chop an onion and 2 rashes of bacon and add to the chicken and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of plain flour, 450ml of chicken stock, 2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard, 2 diced carrots and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

In the last 20 minutes, smash it with 100 grams of frozen peas and beef up the heat to high. Now what you can then do is make a mash, cover the above said ingredients, bit of cheese over the top of the mash and brown it under the grill in your oven. I just served the mash on the side.

The meal was quite easy once it was underway and cooking so the day I got to share with my family. Happy days or so they say.

Dinner was served on the dining table and we all sat down and had a great conversation with the critic leading the way. I have no idea what we talked about, but the critic was very pleased with herself by the end of it.

But then came the biggest surprise of all. Wait for it. Wait for it.

The critic ate everything. Ha ha. I'd done it. She ate everything. The plate was clean. I can now finish my little journey a happy man and cook.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Every foodies dream, Two for the price of One !!

Sorry about last night people. Was feeling lazy and the blog was the last thing on my mind. So today everyone gets treated to two for the price of one.

Last nights dinner was Thai chicken with rice and a home made peanut dipping sauce. Tonight's dinner was a simple grilled steak (porterhouse of course - the preferred cut) served with home made chips and a avocado salsa. To add to the mix lunch today was a ploughman's lunch. What can I say I was feeling generous !!

Both dinners went down well. As you could probably guess, the critic took one look at the Thai chicken and peanut sauce and tonight's salsa and said the magic words, as her little nose wrinkled up "smells yucky".

So I have the critic worked out. I give her a little dish on the side for trying and then also give her a plain seasoned piece of the meat we are eating. I'll break down that food barrier one day. The critic is sitting here daring me. Oh she knows how to push buttons. Ha !!

Both dishes were simple and easy to make which meant time to spend with the family.

The Thai chicken was prepared 4 hours earlier to help soak the marinade in and then took about 20 minutes to cook. The peanut dipping sauce took all of 20 minutes to prep and 5 minutes to cook (buy roasted peanuts would cut the prep time down by, oh let's say 15 minutes - damn you raw peanuts).

The steak, salsa and home made chips were even easier. Chips were in the oven about 35 minutes. Salsa made just before the chips were in the oven. This step took 5 minutes. And the steaks took 8 minutes to cook. Easy as.

And to top it off, the ploughman's lunch was even easier. Take a massive plate. Onto it goes a generous serving of grape, apple, strawberries, cheese, bread and whatever else your heart desires.

And this time no bloody paddle pop lion !

Friday, January 7, 2011

No no no no !!!! Marinate you idiot !!!!

Talk about a mixed up day. Did the fortnightly shopping which was quite affordable with so many new dishes on the menu. A pleasant surprise I must say. The pantry is now well and truly stocked for any occasion and any dish I might wish to try in the future. Is there any greater feeling than having a well stocked pantry ?

Meat wasn't to bad price wise either. We've found two good butchers so far. One quite close the other unfortunately further away but fantastic. A big thank you goes to my sister for finding that one and telling us.

Well I had the menu planned out for the night. Thai chicken skewers with boiled rice and served with lime to dress followed by Butterscotch Banana's. It sounded good. The editor was very excited and couldn't wait. I knew the critic wasn't going to like it as she had never tried Thai chicken before but I was hoping to open her mind and taste buds. Hoping.

Everything was going well until my wife, the editor, read the recipe. Something I pride myself on doing each and every time, making sure I understand everything. It wasn't going to take long to do. About 15 minutes for prep and a further 10 or so minutes for cooking. With about an hour till dinner my wife read the recipe and in writing standing out on its own were the words - marinate for 4 hours.

Since I didn't want to have dinner at around 10pm, the chicken dish is now on the menu for the next night.

Have you ever seen someone deflate extremely quickly ? So full of hope and joy one minute then seconds later full of despair. I have and it's not a pretty sight.

With nothing but frozen meat, no veggies (that shopping happens on the day I need the ingredients) but a stacked pantry, I did what every good cook does. I ordered Chinese.

Still had the Butterscotch Banana's to come through. I could still redeem myself. Ha ha. Funny.

The recipe was easy. Butter, dark brown sugar (recipe called for light brown muscovado sugar - which I can't find anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find this ?) and golden syrup in a pot and cooked until butter melted and the sugar was dissolved. Banana's, 2 of them, cut into big chunks and the juice of one lemon squeezed over them. Put banana's into pot, on low heat, pour over the sauce and simmer for one hour and serve with ice cream.

Followed the recipe to a tee but I must say that I didn't even need the critics help on this one. Wasn't really a dish that would set my taste buds on fire. My mum makes a better version with rum.

So a disappointing finish to the day but head up, Thai chicken tomorrow. Oh and this time I'll make sure I marinate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Geez hello old friend ! Nice to see you again ! How long has it been ?

A new year. A new menu. Time to rock and or roll people !

Sorry for the delay in between posts. Having family over from Christmas to new years and a prepared menu in place I left the kitchen to the experts. One never messes with those that have 10 times more experience than you. I thank those that visited our kitchen, imparted their wisdom and created wonderful meals. I hope one day to repay the favour.

The next few dishes that I'll be attempting over the next week or so, in no order, are:
  • Chicken, Avocado and Mango Salad
  • Chicken Satay Sticks
  • Lamb, port and cranberry hotpot
  • Summer Garden Pie
  • Caribbean chicken with rice and peas
  • One pan fried lamb with veggies
  • Any requests from critic, editor and others
  • Plus I have been given a list of 10 things to try and make. Must give at least one of them a crack.
Tonight we only had left over red curry pork patties with rice and lime juice. The critic had a prepared spag bol which was wolfed down. Don't know if she chewed or just swallowed. Wish she could do that to mine. Maybe by the end. I can always live in hope !

The pork patties were even better the second time round. A must have try out on the family. That's at least 3. Sorry mum looks like I'm taking over the family kitchen. Ha yeah as if she'll let me. Maybe if I team up with my brother in law things might just work. Hmmmm.

The editor made Chocolate Souffle's. Which were yummy. The only reason I am mentioning this is because I did help. I did. Okay just a little bit until I was told to "move out that is not how you fold egg whites into chocolate. Ooops.

Well it's off to watch a new favourite show. Willie's Perfect Chocolate Christmas.

Here's to the new year, new dishes, new tastes and hopefully great new reviews.
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