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Archive for January, 2010

I use the term “pie” in the way you would with a “shepherds pie” or a “cottage pie”, but the real description of this would be: chicken, bacon & mushroom pie with a cheesy carrot & swede mash topping!

This was a throw together meal I made the other day and it was delicious!  Very flavoursome and I would do it again in a minute!  The only thing I might do differently next time, would be to add a couple of potatoes to my mash, to give it a bit more consistency.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

5 carrots, cubed

half a swede, cubed

3 potatoes, cubed (for next time!)

20g butter

50g cheese (I used mature cheddar)

2 chicken breasts, diced

184g bacon (I used smoked), diced

200g closed cup mushrooms, chopped

1 medium onion,  diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

350ml chicken stock

1-2 bay leaves (I used 2, but will try 1 next time)

splash of worcester sauce

Directions:

Boil your carrots, swede and potatoes in a large pot.

Fry the chicken and bacon, until browned.

Add the mushrooms, onions & garlic to the pan.

Add your stock, bay leaves, salt & pepper and a splash of worcestershire sauce.

Let it simmer for 30 mins.  Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

Mash your carrots, swede & potatoes together, adding butter and your cheese.

Remove the bay leaves, then pour your chicken mixture into a ovenproof dish, then top with your mash.  Score a fork across the top of the mash to neaten and flatten out.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins, or until golden.

And thats it!  Delicious, flavoursome comfort food!  I had some for lunch the next day at work and it was just as good, if not better!

Here is a photo of the chicken mixture:

 One for my collection!

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Haggis was alien to me until last year (the 250th anniversary of Rabbie Burns), when I tried it for the first time at a céilidh in Edinburgh (how utterly Scottish of me).  I was pleasantly surprised and have eaten it many times since then!

Last night, though, we opted for the Vegetarian Haggis, as my twin sister wont eat the real stuff.  I love tatties and I love neeps, but if you mash them together, add some cream, butter, and a sprinkling of fresh chopped chives… mmmm there you have some deliciously creamy Clapshot!  I wont even tell you what my sister though “Clapshot” was; I will show you a picture of it instead!

 

I made a “whisky jus” to go with it, by adding 30ml whisky to a hot pan, where I tipped it towards the flame and set fire to it, thus burning off the alcohol (my first flambé!!), added 150ml single cream (once the flames went out), salt and pepper, then reduced for a minute or two!  In retrospect, I should have added ALOT more cream (maybe 4-500ml for serving 3), as there wasn’t much to spread around. 

Hope you all had a fabulous Burn’s Night!

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Sadly, I haven’t been cooking much the last few days; what with the gym, work and more work!  But I would like to post about the lovely meal I had at the Argyle House on Friday night.  We were supposed to go to a restaurant in Ayr (about a 50 mins drive), however, the mist fell down quite bad that evening and we decided to stay closer to home for our feast. 

My starter was Black Pudding Fritters with Savoy Cabbage and an Arran Mustard Essence.  I was quite surprised to see two black puddings on my plate, as they are quite filling!  I couldn’t finish it, but the taste was phenomenal.  You could tell the black pudding was of a very good quality, by it’s soft, velvety texture (which went wonderfully with the crisp batter).  I’d never tried savoy cabbage before (the aftermath of my childhood veggie phobia!) and I was pleasantly surprised with it; it was nice and light… a perfect accompaniment to the weighty black pudding.  I was interested to see how the mustard sauce would fare against the black pudding, as they are both really strong in flavour.  They paired together wonderfully and I really want to learn how to make my own “mustard essence”, as I feel it would be a great addition to so many different dishes.  If I were to make this dish myself, I would perhaps use more batter and reduce the amount of black pudding to one slice.   

After my triumph of tasting salmon for the first time last week, I continued my boldness, by opting for a Main Course of Seared Sea-Bass Fillets on a Smoked Haddock Fishcake with Harissa Mayonaisse.  I can now say I am a fan of Sea-Bass!  It was delicious!  I didn’t eat the skin (purely psychological – I can’t even eat skin on chicken), but I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable and I will eat it again soon.  The haddock fishcake was beautiful.  I thought there would have been chunks of haddock throughout the cake, but I couldn’t see/taste any.  The smoky haddock flavour was definitely present though.  The Harrissa sauce set it off wonderfully, with it’s creamy texture and spicy aftertaste.  The peppery rocket gave the whole dish a lovely lighter balance.  If I were to make this myself, I would have more sea-bass and less fishcake on my plate.

My last course of the evening was Crushed Fudge and Baileys Crème Brulée.  I usually go for a chocolate dessert when I’m in a restaurant, but this one sounded tremendous.  It didn’t disappoint.  Cue theatrical “mmmmmm”‘s whilst devouring the lot!  The shortbread wasn’t necessary though; the Crème brulée was deceptively filling.  They are so easy to make, yet look so impressive!  I may invest in a blow torch…

Overall, a fabulous meal!  It’s inspired me to attempt my own versions of each of these dishes, so look out for them in my upcoming posts!

P.S – Sorry about the blurry images… it’s apparent that the wine was also very good… 😉

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Cheese Scones

Tonight I went back to the gym, for the first time since early December!  Yes, thats right; I was yet another victim who succumbed to The Festive Season.  I knew I had to get just that first gym sesh over with, in order to get back into it.  I’m so glad I did tonight, but I can already tell I’ll be limping with muscle ache tomorrow!

The main reason I am glad is not for vanity, or for fitness… it’s so I can attempt to justify my complete and utter gluttonous ways.  I was sensible this evening, by feasting on a post-workout meal of turkey, a waffle and a generous helping of broccoli and cauliflower.  But I dream of these beauties… they WILL be mine (after a couple more visits to the gym)!

There was an email floating around my office with a recipe for cheese scones, as some folk were going to do a “bake-off”.  I was on holiday during judgement day, but I made a few changes and later made a batch, for my own consumption mmmmm….

Ingredients:

230g self raising flour

1 tsp mustard powder

1 tsp salt

50g butter (at room temperature)

85g grated cheese (I used mature cheddar)

1 egg (beaten)

115ml milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

Sift the flour into the bowl and sprinkle in the mustard powder and salt. 

Rub in the butter with your fingers, until the mixture looks a tad crumbly. 

Sprinkle in your cheese, then pour in your beaten egg and about 2/3 tbsp milk. 

Form a dough, pouring the rest of the milk gradually as you do.  It should be a soft texture; if it’s still sticky keep forming the dough.

Roll out your dough to about 1 inch thickness.  Stamp out rounds with a pastry cutter (or I suppose you could cut around a cup if you need to).  When it gets to the last bit of dough, I usually just form a hand-made round.

Put them on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 mins. 

Let them cool on a baking tray, lest they burn the roof of your mouth off!

Next time I will try using herbs, or oats, to give it a bit more oomph, although they are sublime as they are.  I like to eat them once they’ve cooled right down, although most people like them straight from the oven (well… once they get past that “burn the roof of your mouth off” temperature).

Enjoy!

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This Weekend…

… I’ll be a busy bee!  Tonight I am taking part in Round 2 of my Come Dine With Me competition.  It’s a Thai menu, I can’t wait!  Then tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading through to Stanley, Co Durham, until Monday!  Hopefully I will gather some material for future blog posts!  In the meantime, here are some pictures from when I was last in Stanley; it’s a beautiful place!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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If I could live on only one dish for the rest of my life, it would be my mum’s scotch broth.  I’ve never tasted another soup like it.  I just had some on my lunch break at work, I had some for my dinner (with crusty buttered bread mmm) last night and I will most likely have some tonight too… if there is any left, that is! 

Mum has never given me the recipe before, despite my constant pleading.  So I have this blog to thank for her change of heart; I asked if I could write about it and she agreed to my shock and amazement!  Here she is, hard at work in the kitchen, in her wee adorable apron:

And here is the elusive recipe for the most flavoursome soup I have ever experienced:

250g Broth Mix – mum uses this one

4 large carrots, grated

1 large leek, sliced

1/4 turnip, diced

A cut of Lamb Shoulder – Mum used this one

4 lamb stock cubes

(Alternatively, you can use Beef Hough and 4 beef stock cubes; both cuts of meat will give delicious results.  Try both!)

Place broth mixture in a bowl, steep in boiled water and cover.  Leave overnight.

The next day, place meat in the soup pot and fill with water, to about 3/4 full.

Add the stock cubes and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

Put the broth mix into a sieve and run under cold water until the water runs clear at the bottom.

Add to the pan, along with the rest of your veg and season.

Cook at a medium heat for at least 1 hour and a half, or until peas are soft.

I hope you enjoy the soup as much as I do.  It freezes well, I’ve taken frozen tubs to work and microwaved before (about 8-10 mins).  Usually the whole pot is devoured before it can be frozen though!

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Today was a loooong day at work.  Infact, my eyes are half closing with sleepiness; which I’ll succumb to once I’ve shared my comforting midweek meal with you. 

Everyone has their food vices; for some it’s chocolate, for others, it’s cheese… the possibilities are endless.  For me, it’s potatoes.  I LOVE potatoes and get stupidly excited about trying out different methods (I was unnaturally overjoyed with my dauphinoise on Saturday night).  However, when it’s been a dull day and I want something quick, easy and soothing, nothing beats plain, buttery mash.  Mmmmmm.

In keeping with my comforting theme, I wanted something rich and creamy to accompany it.  Something quick, easy and uncomplicated; containing ingredients that I had to hand.  I opted for chicken breast with a cheese, onion and mushroom sauce to marry my mash.  This would also be sublime with sauteed leeks or spring onion.

This fed me and my mum 🙂

I rubbed a little olive oil and seasoned my chicken breasts, popping them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes (check that it’s cooked through, by making sure the juices run clear when inserting a knife into the fleshiest part – or you could be clever and use a meat thermometer!)

2 chicken breasts

1 medium onion

button mushrooms

80g mild cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp mustard powder

3 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

300ml milk

In a separate pan, cook the onion and mushrooms for about 10 minutes.

Melt butter in a pan, then stir in flour, mustard powder, then milk.  Keep stirring , let it come to the boil, then simmer until it has a thick consistency.  Add cheese and stir until it all melts together into a wonderful gooey sauciness.  Pour in the mushrooms and onions and spread over your chicken breast.

Serve with some buttery, fluffy mash.  I also had a side of marrowfat peas.

 

It’s almost worth having a crap day for.  Enjoy!

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