Kerri was out this evening and on the way home I wondered how to use up the few pieces of purple sprouting brocolli that we had left over. Somehow in these situations I often end up craving a Thai or Chinese style stir fry and that’s what happened this evening too. To go with the brocolli, I bought some mushrooms, cashew nuts and spring onions.
Turned out very well and although I was a bit over-full afterwards, I still found myself wishing there had been more.
Everything was quite approximate, but the recipe went something like this:
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
small piece grated ginger (I used half a teaspoon of powdered ginger actually as I didn’t have fresh)
200g mushrooms, sliced
half a pack of purple sprouting brocolli, cut into thirds and thick stalks sliced lengthways too
3 spring onions, chopped, both white and green bits
handful cashew nuts
half a teaspoon of corn flour, made into a paste with a little cold water
1tbsp oyster sauce
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp Chinese cooking wine
Heat a little vegetable oil in a wok over medium to high heat and add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 30 seconds or so, then add the brocolli and mushrooms. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and add one tablespoon of soy sauce. Add the spring onions and cashew nuts and keep stir frying for another minute. Then turn the heat down, add the other tablespoon of soy sauce, the oyster sauce and the Chinese cooking wine. Give a good stir and place a lid onto the wok. Leave it for 3 or 4 minutes until done. Serve with some rice and enjoy!
This was originally going to be something and watercress pizza but something went wrong with out shopping order and we ended up with peashoots instead. I had selected watercress because the English stuff is just coming into season, these peashoots were from Portugal so not exactly food-mile friendly but tasty nonetheless.
We tossed the raw peashoots in some pesto before adding them to the cooked pizza, a technique we’ve used before with rocket. We also reserved some of the mozarella and added that with the peashoots, a good way to lighten everything up.
We had a small piece of steak in the freezer which wasn’t really enough for a whole meal but was too much to throw away. We had no plan for dinner tonight so ended up stretching the steak by adding lots of vegetables to make fajitas. We haven’t had these for ages and they were really good, not sure why we left it so long.
Salmon, cooked quickly with cumin, chilli, coriander and lemon (much like this recipe actually) and served with roasted cauliflower. The cauliflower just wouldn’t cook though, we ate it anyway but it was far too crunchy.
Yesterday’s leftover chicken reheated and served with vegetables that had been roasted with chilli, cumin and garlic. A handful of coriander and some warm wraps and that was tonight’s dinner. Perfect Monday food.
While I was planning meals for the weekend, I decided that I wanted to roast a chicken with Morrocan flavourings, in a similar way to this leg of lamb. I bought a bulb of fennel, some olives and some preserved lemons and set about putting together said roast chicken. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was actually just making chicken tagine with a whole chicken instead of pieces.
At this point, Stephen and I had a conversation in which he said something like “Shall we just make chicken tagine?” but I stupidly ignored him and continued with my original plan. I should have listened to him. If I had then we would have had a really good chicken tagine instead of a dish which was very much like chicken tagine but not quite as good.
Our chicken tagine recipe is here, try it, it’s brilliant.
Having talked earlier about how we rarely accept items to sample, I’m going to talk about another item I happily said yes to now. This time it was tea and the new range from PG Tips.
I love tea and I drink loads of it. I like it strong and I like it to be Twinings English Breakfast. I will drink other tea but I don’t like it as much. I do however like this new PG Tips tea. Of the three, I naturally preferred The Strong One, it’s very similar to the English Breakfast I favour and is the one I reach for first thing in the morning. Later on, I move on to the The Fresh One which has a lighter flavour and is fruitier. The Delicate One I’m not so keen on. It’s decaffeinated (although it’s pretty good for decaffeinated tea actually) and just doesn’t have as much flavour as the other two.
Since we have so much of it and since I didn’t like it as much as the other two, I decided to use The Delicate One in a cake. This recipe from BBC Good Food is one of the first hits on Google and was perfect since I also had some old, dry raisins that needed using up – the recipe requires them to be soaked overnight in tea and orange juice so that they become plump and juicy.
It was easy to make and it rose well, something I was worried about since I’m not a confident baker. I added some cinnamon, ground cloves and vanilla extract to the mixture too which worked really well with the savoury flavour of the tea.
The comments on the original recipe say it keeps well and I can imagine eating it later in the week spread with butter and maybe some honey. With a cup of tea to accompany it, obviously.
I got an email a couple of weeks ago asking if I was interested in trying some bacon. We get a lot of emails asking us to try things and we mostly say no, mostly the products aren’t that interesting, I don’t like writing reviews and, if I don’t like the product then I feel bad writing about it and potentially upsetting the supplier. I wasn’t going to turn down the offer of free bacon though so replied instantly and said yes. I wasn’t however expecting to receive 40 rashers of the stuff.
We used some in the spaghetti alla vodka we ate earlier in the week but the point of the free bacon was to see how the supermarket product compared to the premium bacon from a butcher. I didn’t have any butcher’s bacon and I wasn’t going to add to the 40 rashers so we just fried some up this morning for breakfast. Well, Stephen did. And here’s what he had to say about it.
Two rashers of each type went into the pan. One of the packs said “no added water” on it and I nodded in approval as I laid it into the frying pan along with the others. When cooking, the “no added water” rashers didn’t get covered in white foam and the others did. I pointed this out to Kerri and she (having read the marketing information) said that they were all supposed to be dry cure and that none of them were supposed to release anything. Hmm. I inspected the other packs and they did indeed say “dry cure” on them. Definite release of water though. I should have taken a picture at the time, but when the picture above was taken I had already turned them over.
Anyway, taste is what counts of course, so on to that. Armed with a rasher of each type, some toast, some fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms and a fried egg, I set to work. Tasting the different bacon on their own first before mixing them with anything else, one particular thing stood out: salt. They were all very salty. The flavour and texture did vary slightly between them: one was more porky and thicker, one tasted more like gammon but was oddly flat in texture and the other was somewhere in between in most respects.
The saltiness did tend to overpower the other flavours when eaten on their own, making it a little difficult to discern interesting differences. When eaten with tomatoes, mushrooms, egg, etc, the saltiness was diluted and it didn’t matter so much and they did complement the rest of the breakfast. I was hoping to be wowed by at least one of them which didn’t happen unfortunately, but all three were better than the lower quality supermarket alternatives or bulk generic catering packs that I’ve had the misfortune to be served in some establishments and I would happily eat them in preference for both taste and also animal welfare considerations.
(The bacon was sent to us by the PR company behind “I Love Real Bacon”, I can’t see a website for them though, just a Facebook page).
Pizza is a Friday night staple in our house. It’s fun food, the varieties are endless and it’s also quick and easy which is perfect for a relaxing night at home following a busy week. I was out on Friday night though and since we had decided to try the purple sprouting brocolli topping and didn’t want to wait another week, we went crazy and had pizza on a Saturday night instead. I know, mad aren’t we?
As it turned out, we had a busy Saturday too so we made the dough in advance and left it to rise while we finished off the last of the day’s chores (not that much of a chore actually, since we spent the afternoon at Vagabond, a local wine shop that has a tasting fridge).
The combination (brocolli, chilli, anchovies and lemon zest) is a good one, it’s a classic that works well with pasta, which generally always makes for good pizza topping. We added whole anchovies which were a little over-powering and would have been better simmered in the tomato sauce. The chilli flakes were hot but tasteless, fresh chilli would have been a better option. The brocolli was very good though, adding a depth and richness which reminded us both of the cavolo nero pizza we loved so much last year.
I started a new job last week and one of the many good things about it is that I get to work from home and therefore save myself an extra two hours a day that I used to spend at the mercy of London Underground. I can also work flexible hours so, in theory, I could start work early and then finish early, giving myself lots of time in the evening to spend in the kitchen. I haven’t quite got myself into a routine yet though so what generally happens is, I finish work and then realise there’s very little food in the house and I have no idea what to cook. I meant to resolve this at the weekend by planning lots of meals that I could start in the morning before work or be ready to prepare when my working day is finished. I didn’t get round to it though, I did however manage to buy vodka which meant we could eat this (original recipe here), never let it be said that I don’t have my priorities in order.
In a happy coincidence, a rather nice man knocked on my door yesterday and presented me with 40 rashers of bacon (more on that later) so I did the only thing I could in that situation, immediately fried some up and added it to the pasta sauce. Of course, everything is better with bacon but this took quite a lot of seasoning and lemon juice before it was properly balanced (Sainsbury’s have stopped selling my favourite San Marzano tomatoes so I tried some tinned cherry tomatoes which weren’t brilliant: too sweet and too much skin) but, once it was balanced, it was a good combination.
Of course, now I not only have to work out what we’re going to eat next week but I also have to work out how to incorporate those 40 rashers of bacon before they expire.