Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Monday – Fail

September 15, 2009

My diet yesterday consisted mainly of tea & chocolate cake which pretty much distracted me from thinking about proper food, plus had a busy day doing nothing in particular & then just at the point I should have  been thinking about dinner before going out, friends turned up out of the blue and then I was late & nothing had been shopped for or cooked & I needed to be somewhere.

The somewhere was the inaugural meeting of the Brighton Belles WI. It turned out to be  a record breaking first meeting with around 50 young & funky women in attendance. Yes there will be wholesome cake & jam making in our future and probably also a lot of networking plus as the membership already includes a writer of erotic fiction and a renowned sexpert there will inevitably be plenty of fabulous filth too. Watch out world if we ever do a fundraising calendar.

The meeting was in a pub and after a couple of post WI drinks, necessarily outside so we could indulge in cigarettes, I was starving & freezing so decided to go home & in search of food. I knew there wasn’t a lot on offer in the fridge and didn’t much fancy chips or a burger from ‘kebabs r us’ so went to scavenge in M&S at the station instead. They have a selection of tempting treats but I needed instant stodgy gratification so microwaveable macaroni cheese was the answer.  I could easily have made it myself for a fraction of the price and it would have been significantly tastier but it wouldn’t have been ready in 3 1/2 minutes. Sometimes you just have to give in to these things tho to my credit I did get a salad pack as well in a vague attempt to have at least a small proportion of my 5 a day.

Not a good food day but c’est la vie, will try harder today

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Saturday – Peach Salsa/Sausage casserole

September 14, 2009

Saturday dawned with a surprisingly mild hangover  but resulted in a very slow start, late late breakfast/lunch fry up got us going a bit and then on to the job for the day, making peach salsa.

We are blessed with a peach tree in our garden and after some judicious pruning by a tree surgeon last year it has yielded a bumper crop which are actually edible (last year they were full of starch & horrid). They’re still not the best for eating straight off the tree and as the nicest salsa I’ve ever eaten was a peach one. I thought we should give it a go. Cue much peeling chopping & boiling.

I’ve dabbled in jam & pickle making and made huge batches of marmalade every year with my grandparents and made many fresh  & cooked salsas and even green tomato ketchup last year but this was my first attempt at a properly cooked & bottled salsa.

Once the salsa had bubbled in the pan for ten minutes or so I ladled it into my hoard of Bonne Maman jam jars still hot from sterilising in the oven, gently replaced the lids & then boiled them in a water bath for another 10 minutes. Which theoretically means they’ll keep on the shelf for a year or so but to be honest I don’t think they’ll last that long as we’re two jars down already (it’s delicious if I say so myself).

Whilst making the salsa I made a simple sausage casserole  for supper with some of Bramptons Butchers award winning sausages. In this instance the garlic & tomato ones, browned &  chucked in a pot with onion, pepper, mushrooms & tinned tomatoes, then into the oven for a couple of hours & served with crusty bread for a tasty stomach lining supper before a night out with the girls.

By the way I love Bramptons, a proper butchers. The meat is fabulous & they’re always handy for hints & tips. They had beef shins when I was in the other day & I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. Definitely on the menu soon.

http://www.bramptonsbutchers.co.uk/

Friday – carluccio’s & cocktails

September 14, 2009

Out for dinner with a girlfriend & her teenage son. The teenager got the final choice on the venue so Carluccio’s it was. Busy & noisy on a Friday night, it might now be part of a big corporate chain but it’s safe bet for filling tasty food without completely destroying the bank balance.

We shared a pile of starters, all good & tasty though a bit heavy handed on the rocket for my taste. Mains were hearty & filling although I ended up feeling somewhat carbohydrate deprived after my pollo milanese as Carluccio’s serve theirs with a paltry side salad rather than the more traditional spaghetti napolitana. It did however leave more room for cocktails.

The teenager bailed to go do teenage things so his mother & I moved on to cocktails at Valentinos. Can’t remember them all but the espresso martinis were particularly good… the rest of the night’s a bit of a blur.

Sunday – roast at the pub

September 7, 2009

Up early  on Sunday so  went to the market & starving by lunchtime, would have taken too long to shop for & cook the needed roast so the only choice was to go to the pub. Luckily our local ( The Chimney House) is of the gastro variety and does a fantastic roast so off we went. It was it’s usual excellent quality, slow roasted pork belly for me, rolled lamb for the boy with plenty of delicious veg ( spinach, crushed peas, roast potatoes & carrots) plus a yorkshire pud. Their puddings looked tempting but we retired to the sofa for an afternoon with papers & telly.

Come dinner time we were still pretty full from lunch  and still hadn’t shopped so it was all about snacking on cheese,  biscuits & pickles plus a nice crisp braeburn ( can’t wait for new season coxes tho)

Friday – Strangers for dinner

September 5, 2009

So if strangers are just friends you haven’t yet met, last night I had 4 friends round for dinner but in this case they were friends who paid for the privilege.

As part of the Brighton & Hove Food Festival  and in the style of a secret supper club or the far less cool guilty pleasure Come Dine With Me, keen cooks were invited to open their doors to the town’s foodies and cook for them, or in my case as the woman behind it is an old friend I was just pretty much told I was doing it, so I posted my menu online & people booked,so far so good, no problem. No problem at least as far as the cooking was concerned, I’m confident when it comes to my food & am happy to meet & entertain new people but having strangers in my house is another issue entirely. I share a smallish 1 bedroom flat with the boyfriend, 2 cats about 3000 records, several thousand cds & books plus my robot collection and other assorted junk. We love our house but it’s not designed for formal entertaining (it’s not designed at all really, it just kinda evolved) plus we’re not exactly clean freaks and the thought of random strangers coming to eat & being horrified by the chaos & low(ish) level of filth gave me the fear, on top of which a couple of weeks ago my friend who’s organised the whole thing announced that the local paper was doing a piece on it & she’d arranged for a photographer to come & take pics of me cooking to accompany the article hence followed two weeks of frantic cleaning and the kitchen is now sparkly, the hallway clear of dustballs & the sofa & carpet free of the usual covering of cat hair.

By yesterday afternoon I was fairly confident that no one would be too horrified at the prospect of eating here, I had a mild panic that I didn’t have enough matching wine glasses  but as none of my crockery matches either I decided it would have to just be part of the whole shabby chic affair after all the food’s the important stuff. The menu was:- Salad of figs,lambs lettuce, air dried ham & young goats cheese with a balsamic reduction/ panfried monkfish fillet with butternut squash & aubergine risotto with parmesan crisps, deep fried sage & parsley oil/ a white chocolate & chili blondie & a chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream.

My guests  ( 3 women, Kirsten, Jean & Amanda + 1 man, Andy) arrived at 7.30 and we started off getting to know each other over a bottle of Viognier which I already had on the go before moving onto Cava brought by Jean and the conversation was flowing with the booze so I figured we should start eating before everyone got too comfortable so I got everyone seated at my rather too small table at which point I discovered that Kirsten doesn’t eat meat, a fact the event organiser had neglected to share with me but thankfully she wasn’t too precious about it as I’d prepared the salads in advance and the only option was to pick out the ham from hers, Delicious Italian wine was provided by Ten Green Bottles  who supply wine to such culinary luminaries as The Fat Duck, The River Cafe & Daphne’s, Cantina del Taburno Falanghina for the first course & Baron di Pauli Enosi with the main ( http://www.tengreenbottles.com/ ), first course done I had to quickly deal with the monkfish, the risotto was oven baked & ready to go as were the other accompaniments so it was just a case of quickly pan frying it & then finishing it in the oven for 5 minutes. Plating up was precarious as my kitchen is so tiny & crammed with stuff there’s barely any work surface but I’m an expert at balancing plates on the dish drainer, stools etc so the main was served without event and even seconds of risotto and so to pudding, the ice cream was so well received I couldn’t resist offering a bonus dessert as I recently made chocolate ice cream with white chocolate chips, an accompanying wine would have been nice but we made do with Amanda’s fine bottle of red before moving onto the sofa & coffee & biscotti before calling it a night around 1ish.

Well I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I hope my guests/new friends did too and now I have a clean house I’m thinking I might try & keep it that way & do another night before the festival finishes without stressing about what people might think of our homely little pigsty.  Now what’s left to eat tonight?

Wednesday & Thursday – tortellini & jerk chicken (not together)

September 5, 2009

Been a bit busy, cleaning & prepping for last nights dinner  but still found time to cook & eat Wednesday & Thursday nights,  just didn’t find time to write about it til now. Wednesday night I needed  a quick supper & an antidote to all that beef  and the solution was a packet of ready made spinach & ricotta tortellini  with a sauce made from onions, mushrooms & courgettes fried til they started to caramelise then chucked in some sundried tomato paste (whizzed up in blender as had run out of ready made stuff) lots of lovely parmesan on top  et voila quick easy & tasty. Thursday night took a little more effort. Inspired by a friend’s facebook status the previous day mentioning having jerk chicken in the oven I had a craving that needed to be dealt with so made jerk marinade with thyme, garlic, ginger etc & the obligatory masochistic pleasure that is a scotch bonnet chucked it on some chicken pieces, marinated it for a while in the fridge whilst making biscotti and reducing balsamic for friday night, took biscotti out of the oven, put the chicken in  & turned my attention to accompaniments – fried yellow plantain and buttery spinach & corn. The trick with plantain by the way is to fry it twice, once briefly then lay on a boardunder some greaseproof paper & squish with the bottom of a cup or plate then back in the pan to crisp up with lots of good salt. Final cooking job for the night was to make chocolate brownies for Friday’s dinner  then to bed.