Salad days

Work is pretty slow at the moment, but given the patterns of month-by-month fluctuations in the amount of stuff coming in, I’ll probably be slammed by this time next week…

As for salads, the Hairy Dieters’ low-cal ‘posh prawn cocktail’, which formed my supper yesterday, turned out brilliantly ๐Ÿ™‚ Sadly the recipe doesn’t seem to be available online (and reproducing it here directly from the book seems like a good way to invoke the wrath of the copyright gods) so I’ll just have to settle for saying that it’s going to be a definite fixture in my culinary repertoire, and that it’s persuaded me to like iceberg lettuce!

The other salad recipe I have planned for this week is Chicken Caesar salad. I’m relishing (no pun intended) the opportunity to make one of my favourite salads, in a guilt-free way, with my own hands ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking at the ingredients list and the sizes of the various containers of ingredients that I have in stock, I’m definitely going to have some anchovies, parmesan, garlic and quite a bit of ciabatta bread left after making this reicpe. Luckily, I have access to some yummy cheeses, chutneys and pickles, as well as a chicken korma planned for next week, plus some quick pasta recipes (these last two being especially handy for using the garlic, and the pasta dish I have in mind should be good for the anchovies), so nothing will go to waste ๐Ÿ˜€

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Adventures in the wrestling of cassoulet

I tried out this recipe, with appropriate procedural modifications, in my slow cooker on Sunday. It turned out deliciously and I managed to get seven portions out of it, rather than the ‘serves 4-6’ indicated on the recipe itself! Should keep me going for a bit ๐Ÿ™‚

The modifications I used were:

  • One whole head of celery rather than 4 sticks thereof
  • Chopping in half a small ham joint in addition to the other meat (it needed eating up)
  • Seven chicken thighs rather than six (there were seven thighs in the pack I bought and I didn’t want to waste any)
  • 800g cannellini beans rather than 400g cannellini and 400g butterbeans (I’m not keen on butterbeans)
  • Sweating down the onions, celery, carrots and garlic in one saucepan and then just throwing everything into the slow cooker

Even if I’d followed the recipe quantities exactly, I suspect that I would still have met something like the situation in which I in fact found myself — specifically, that there wasn’t room in the slow cooker for everything, leaving me with three containers of cannellini beans (roughly 600g beans (drained weight)) and a tin of plum tomatoes to find a use for. I eventually hit on the solution of draining the beans and heating them in a small saucepan with the tomatoes shortly before dividing up the cassoulet, and mixing some of the bean-and-tomato mixture with each separate portion. It worked perfectly ๐Ÿ™‚

Delicious as it is, cassoulet is a somewhat heavy dish. I’ll be trying out a couple of low-cal salads next week — prawn cocktail and chicken caesar. These are my favourite types of salad anyway, so I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation!

Slow and steady…

…is a pretty accurate description of my workflow right now ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s in that sort of sweet spot where there’s a decent number of jobs coming in, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming.

The chicken paprika to which I alluded in my previous post turned out very well, though given the quantity of liquid that comes from a dozen chicken thighs, one can of peeled plum tomatoes and 400ml stock, I’m inclined to make it in my slow cooker next time — my largest saucepan was at the very limits of its capacity once I’d finished adding ingredients.

I’m really looking forward to trying out next week’s recipe — cassoulet. It’ll be another slow cooker job, but that’s not a problem ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been wanting to do this recipe for ages, but I’ve restrained myself to working through the recipe book in order; I generally prefer to do this when I’m working from such a book.

Hellooooooooo April!

(The month, that is!)

Work is rolling along at a steady pace ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t say much more than that, because I take client confidentiality seriously.

Sooo…

On the topic of lamb hotpot: do not try to make this in a slow cooker. I made the experiment on Sunday, broadly following the Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight recipe, replacing the 1hr45mins@170C oven cooking with 8 hours in my slow cooker, with the first hour at ‘high’ and the rest of the time at ‘medium’. Everything did cook and I’ve felt no ill-effects from eating any of it (tastes great!), but the potatoes, while they certainly tasted cooked, retained a very firm texture rather than gaining the softness that I usually associate with cooked potato. I suspect that this was due to my cutting them into slices and layering them on top of the other ingredients rather than dicing them and stirring them in. I’ll chalk this one up to experience, and remember to mash the spuds instead next time I bring lamb and slow cooker into culinary conjunction.

I have paprika chicken planned for next week — hopefully it turns out better than the hotpot! I have a particular interest in this chicken dish because it was referred to in passing in the first chapter of Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Jonathan Harker speaks favourably of the dish and makes a note to get the recipe for his fiancรฉe Mina. It’s strange, the way my brain connects things sometimes…