Short one

Just a short post this week — I seem to be coming down with the first rhinovirus infection of this autumn/winter.

I have a good amount of room in my schedule at present, so get in touch if there’s some proofreading you want done!

Food-wise, I made pork and black bean stew yesterday and it turned out brilliantly — just the right amount of savouriness and spice πŸ™‚

Advertisements

Simple is best

Last week’s pork medallions in BBQ sauce turned out very well — so much so that I’ve put the BBQ sauce down as something to repeat with other meat dishes, such as sausage and mash. Delicious!

As for this week, I’ve done sirloin steaks with a quick, low-calorie ‘bΓ©arnaise’ sauce. The sauce didn’t turn out quite so well — though it was edible and reasonably tasty, the texture needed work — but the steaks were very simple. Two and a half minutes per side under a hot grill had them cooked to medium done-ness and they came out tender and juicy — delicious! The recipe in Hairy Dieters: Fast Food didn’t actually have a calorie-count-per-portion for some reason, but I’d estimate the figure to be between 350 and 450 calories per serving.

Next I’ll be doing sticky chicken thighs — the recipe calls for drumsticks done in a roasting tin, but I prefer thighs for the meat-to-bone ratio, so I’ll be cooking this particular recipe in a casserole dish to keep the extra juices corralled. It’ll probably turn out rather like a confit, but I don’t mind that πŸ™‚

Quietly meaty

It’s been a bit of a rough weekend — had a small scare about my cat’s health (she’s ok now) — but I’ve still managed to crank out some good food πŸ™‚

Yesterday’s dish was chicken livers, escabeche style, a very tasty low-cal version of a popular Latin American dish — though I left out the tabasco sauce as I find that a bit too fierce (a few twists of black pepper seemed to work just as well).

The final dish was pretty darn good — it behaved, more or less, like yer classic liver and onion but with red bell peppers added and an awakeningly spicy zing to the gravy. I got four portions out of the recipe, so I’m covered for the next few days πŸ™‚

Next up on the recipe list is pork medallions in barbecue sauce. Again, I’ll be leaving out the tabasco — I’m a little more inclined to sweet-savoury combinations where pork is concerned, rather than blow-your-tastebuds-off spiciness. Should be good!

Bank Holiday seafood

It’s fruits de mer week here, and it has been brilliant so far!

Yesterday was cod veronique — a new one for me. The idea of fish and grapes in a creamy sauce seemed really strange at first, but it actually works really well. All of the flavours are quite subtle — the sweetness of the grapes, the savouriness of the onion and the stock, the rich fullness of the single cream and the symphony of the cod itself — but they complement each other beautifully. I had to go half-quantities on the cod — 300g instead of 600g — due to the cost, but that didn’t hurt the dish at all. I think this is my favourite recipe so far from Hairy Dieters:Fast Food πŸ™‚

I got three portions of the cod veronique; I froze two of them for later consumption as the dish I made today would need extra preparation time and I couldn’t be certain of the amount of time I’d have for food-wrangling once work starts coming in after the bank holiday weekend.

The dish to which I refer? Chilli prawn pasta! Part of the prawn component was to be a pack of smoked shell-on prawns which I received recently as a gift. Thankfully, they didn’t need to be deveined, but given that I dislike eating prawns shell-on and with the heads attached I had to peel the lot (hence the need for extra time which I mentioned in the previous paragraph). It turned out to be much less fiddly and annoying than I expected, which was good,and I ended up with a nice-sized pile of heads and shells which I boiled up for a quick stock to use in the sauce for the pasta. I got 450ml, of which I only needed to use 100ml for the recipe. I decanted the rest into a suitable container and put it in the freezer, to be used when I find a suitable recipe.

The chilli prawn pasta itself turned out very well, although I did start sweating very quickly — the chilli flakes I used are a good bit stronger than the recipe seems to assume, so the single teaspoon I added (per the instructions) was probably two or three times more than I really needed. That’s not too great a concern, though — Greek-style yoghurt helps ameliorate the effects and is relatively inexpensive.

All in all, a successful week so far on the food front — I hope the chicken livers escabeche that I have pencilled in for next week turn out as well!

Green fritters and ham

Work is back to a more manageable flow, so I can post on time again!

This week’s culinary experiment was pea-and-ham fritters, in a similar vein to last week’s spicy sweetcorn fritters — although the pea-and-ham fritters were more successful, because the batter was supposed to be green from having 300g of mashed-up peas stirred into it (very memorable!).

The fritters turned out PERFECTLY — they looked exactly like the photo next to the recipe, give or take a wiggle — and they tasted brilliant with the mustard dip (4 tablespoons of 0% fat yoghurt mixed with one teaspoon of wholegrain mustard).

I’m hoping that this success can be replicated with this week’s other recipe — white bean and tuna fish cakes. I look forward to the attempt ^^

Sledgehammer

I’m slammed with work again this week, hence the delayed post…

I did manage to find time yesterday to make spicy sweetcorn fritters with spicy soy dipping sauce, though!

The sauce went well — very zingy and a real kick in the taste buds, with the chilli, copped garlic and the lime juice.

The fritters also went well — eventually! I noticed after making the first couple of fritters that I’d forgotten to mix the sweetcorn into the batter. This threw off the ratios for the other fritters a bit, but I did manage to make 9 fritters total, with not much escaping sweetcorn. Delicious! They went very well with some cheap ham trim πŸ™‚

One thing I’m especially happy about is how little the fritters stuck to the frying pan. I think this is partially due to my using about 4 tablespoons of oil and making sure it was fairly hot before adding the batter (so that it cooked before getting a chance to stick). I’m convinced that part of it, though, was the egg-to-flour ratio in the batter being just right to make the egg less sticky while not being inedible or turning into brioche dough. I’ve made a note of this and intend to use it for future omelette-making attempts, whether adapting this recipe or using another one — hopefully I’ll get something that behaves like an omelette, rather than a tasty-but-disintegrated pile of tasty eggy bits, as has been the tendency with past omeletty endeavours…

Avalanche

Apologies for the last post this week — I’ve had a sudden avalanche of small commissions after a week or so of very little coming in. I’m climbing out from under the pile now though πŸ™‚

Food-wise, I tried a kilner jar ‘pot noodle’ this week. I had somewhat mixed results, I must admit, owing to the fact that the two kilner jars I own are really about half the size needed for the recipe. I worked around this by putting the ingredients for my eat-immediately portion into my largest pasta bowl, sticking only the veg for the save-for-later portion in the jar (which filled it to capacity) and keeping the quick-cook noodles for that portion in their sealed sachet until they were needed. The size of the pasta bowl meant that the sauce was a bit weakly flavoured after I added the boiling water, but given that the flavour would have been over-concentrated and the stock cube wouldn’t have dissolved properly if I’d squeezed everything into the kilner jar, it seemed to be an acceptable trade-off.

It all tasted good, though, and I was able to use up the remaining veg in a yummy pasta dish improvised from the tagliatelle alla boscaiola recipe from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces — delicious!

A curious cocktail

Tried out another Hairy Dieters prawn cocktail this week — the twist with this one is that the prawns are given a lemon-and-garlic rub/dressing before being quickly grilled or griddled, and the sauce is made using horseradish sauce rather than mayonnaise.

I had some interesting results — the lemon-and-garlic rub worked pretty darn well and I’m making a note of it for future seafood dishes, but the sauce was a bit more of a mixed bag. The horseradish certainly gave it a lot of kick, meaning that I didn’t need much per portion, but the horseradish was very hot/strong, enough to nudge my personal upper limits. The sauce wasn’t bad by any means, but henceforth I think I’ll stick to using light mayo for home-made prawn cocktail. Luckily, my local butcher and Sainsbury’s deli counter between them do good enough beef that the rest of the horseradish sauce will not go to waste! πŸ˜€

Not mush-room in here

So ran my thoughts while I was making soup yesterday — 900g mushrooms (chestnut, portobello and closed-cup white — there would have been some oyster mushrooms as well if I’d noticed them in time) takes up a lot of space. I just about managed to fit the lot into my largest saucepan by adding them in batches and letting each batch cook down and shrink before adding the next.

The glut of mushrooms was my improvisation based on my inability to access the dried porcini mushrooms called for in the ingredients list — nearly doubling the quantity of non-dried mushrooms seemed like a reasonable compromise πŸ™‚

The soup itself turned out brilliantly! A lovely, earthy depth of flavour with plenty of savoury/umami notes and a pleasant spicy edge from the rinsings of a spicy-garlic-pickle jar which I added to the stock. This one’s definitely on my regular roster — especially as it works out to under 100 calories per bowl, which gives me a good bit of flexibility with accompaniments ^^

Of sweetcorn and sugar

I made spicy sweetcorn soup with bacon garnish yesterday — it was delicious! I certainly enjoyed it more than last week’s pea, lettuce and asparagus soup — the flavour felt more full-bodied and less intensely vegetable, and the spices added a pleasant background warmth.

I used tinned sweetcorn rather than frozen, because for some reason none of my regular supermarkets had the frozen stuff in stock. Bit weird, that… Also, I rarely use chipotle paste (which is what the soup recipe calls for) and didn’t think it worthwhile to buy a jar of the stuff only to use 3 teaspoons of it, so I subbed in a spicy garlic pickle that I have in stock. It worked really well, especially mixed in with the bacon for the garnish — something to note for the future!

Today was very work-light, so I took the opportunity to crack open a make-your-own-fudge kit from Christmas and cook up some chocolate brownie fudge. Results were mixed — it tasted good, but was sticky, nearly unmanageable and refused to fully set because I’d messed up on both the boiling temperature and the temperature of the fudge-wrangling surface I was using (a metal baking tray — I don’t own a suitable chopping board and using the worktop would have led to a ridiculous amount of extra cleanup). Ah well — a learning experience! Luckily, I managed to scrape up all the yummy caramel-y/syrupy goop into a mostly-set splat shape which I will re-boil (possibly with the salted-caramel ingredients from the kit — less washing up) in the next couple of days — thankfully, the formulation of the kit allows for that. I’ve reacquainted myself with information on the soft-ball stage and other stages of heating sugar (I don’t own a sugar thermometer, so this info is useful) and hopefully things should turn out a bit better next time πŸ™‚