Friday, 21 October 2011

Half term

Just changes everything!! ... Discuss ..

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

macaroni cheese for Katrina

200g mature cheddar (can use half fat to half .. the fat!!)
50g parmesan
50g white bread , crusts cut off (or crushed up potato crisps work too)
3 medium tomatoes
280g good-quality macaroni
700ml full-fat milk, plus a bit extra (swap this for low or half fat if you like for less calories)
50g butter
50g plain flour , minus 1 tsp
1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
Tsp ground nutmeg
Black pepper (this is something I always add but can just as easily be omitted)
Add steamed veg to make a change ie peas/brocolli/carrots (add at final stage when you combine the sauce and pasta)
Finely grate the cheeses, keeping them separate.
Tear the bread into pieces and whizz in a food processor or with a hand blender until they are coarse crumbs.
Mix 25g of the cheddar and one-third of the Parmesan into the breadcrumbs.
Toss the rest of the cheese together and set aside.
Thickly slice the tomatoes.
Butter a dish, about 30 x 20 x 5.5cm. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
Put a pan of water on to boil. Tip the macaroni into the boiling water, stir and bring it back to the boil. Simmer for 8 mins, or cook according to pack instructions, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking.
While this is cooking, start the sauce.
Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave (or in a pan).
Melt the butter in a pan (big enough to take the macaroni as well), then stir in the flour.
Cook for 1 min, stirring, then take off the heat. Pour in one-third of the warm milk and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth - it is quite thick at this stage.
Add another third - it may go a bit lumpy, but keep beating well and it will go smooth again if this stays lumpy drag out the hand blender they work wonders!
Pour in the final third of milk and keep beating until smooth.
When the macaroni is done, tip it into a colander and put it briefly under very hot running water to keep it separate. Drain.
 Put the pan of sauce back on the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth.
 Lower the heat and simmer for about 4 mins until glossy, stirring every now and then.
 Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard, then beat in 5 tbsp milk, or enough to give a slack coating consistency. You will know this .. not too gloopy but sticky enough to hold onto the pasta
 Taste and season
If the macaroni is sticking at all, put it under the hot tap again, then stir to separate. Drain well, then gently mix it into the sauce and stir to coat completely.
If necessary, adjust the consistency again with milk. There should be enough sauce to coat the macaroni thickly and liberally.
Tip the macaroni cheese into the buttered dish, scatter over the cheesy crumbs and lay the tomatoes casually over the top.
Heat through in the oven for 12-15 mins until beginning to bubble around the edges. Grill for 3-5 mins to brown the crumbs. Let it all settle for 1-2 mins, then serve while still piping hot.

I had actually forgotten how many stages there were in this .. but I have to say it is pretty good ;0)

Macaroni Cheese

pasta chicken bake for Sami

Chicken and broccoli pasta bake

350g pasta shells or quills
200g Broccoli, cut into very small florets and the stems thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
350g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
175g chestnut mushrooms quartered
4 tbsp sundried tomato paste
80g pkt soft cheese with garlic and herbs (philly or Boursin)
284ml carton single cream
  • Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan170C. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the pasta, stir well and return to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for 5-6 minutes more until the pasta is just cooked. Drain well, then return to the pan.
  • Heat the oil in a wide pan, add the chicken pieces and fry until lightly browned. Tip in the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute, then stir in the tomato paste, cheese and cream. Gently simmer, stirring, until the cheese has melted to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce over the pasta, stirring gently until coated, then tip into a shallow ovenproof dish (about 1.7 litre capacity) and level the top.
  • Mix the spring onions, cheddar, garlic and almonds for the topping and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown

recipe for Sami, for school

Chicken enchilladas

3 tbsp olive oil
2Red onions sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
3 red chillies  2 deseeded and chopped, 1 sliced
small bunch coriander , stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped - plus extra to serve (optional)
2garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cumin seeds
6 skinless Chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
415g can refried beans (I use Discovery)
198g can sweetcorn drained
700ml bottle passata ( own brand is cool find it near tomatoes in tins)
1 tsp golden caster sugar
10 tortillas
2 x 142ml pots soured cream
200g cheddar , grated

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in your largest pan, then fry the onions, peppers, chopped chilli and coriander stalks with half the garlic for 10 mins until soft. Stir in 2 tsp ground coriander and 2 tsp cumin seeds, then fry for 1 min more. Meanwhile, in another frying pan, fry the chicken in the remaining oil, in batches, until browned - add it to the pan of veg as it is done.
Stir the beans, sweetcorn, coriander leaves and 150ml of the passata into the veg and chicken. In a bowl, mix the rest of the passata with the other crushed garlic clove, the remaining spices and the sugar, then set aside.
To assemble, lay the tortillas onto a board and divide the chicken mixture between them, folding over the ends and rolling up to seal. Divide the passata sauce into the dishes you are using, then top with the enchiladas. Dot over the soured cream, sprinkle with grated cheese and scatter with the sliced chilli.
Cool and freeze (see freezing tips, below) or, if eating straight away, heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6, then bake for 30 mins, scattering with more coriander leaves to serve, if you like.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Fitness week one and a half almost two really ...

    I decided not to bore you too often with the fitness updates as to be honest on a daily basis would bore anyone stupid let alone me! But for prosperity and in the vague hope that this record may spur me along a little more I shall make weekly updates if i remember of course. far be it from me to say that my mind is prone to wandering, but I think it may be! This post alone even up to here has taken me the best part of the morning as i have wandered of mentally or physically every other second.
    The plan is to get fit and smaller , basically because if i don't do something soon rolling around will be my only option, and we live at the bottom of a hill so even that could be difficult. I have to admit being spurred on by some friends with the same hobby we are all always talking about doing something and so the 'Lardy Dave's fat fighters self help group' was born. All of us desperate to lose weight and get fit all for our own reasons all of them terribly brilliant and all of us failed and won the war before. It was around four days before its inception that i started walking, having Roo has led me to be a little sedentary so I had started to take long morning walks first around the village, then out of the village to the main road and further. Those of us ex smokers and smokers alike will realise how hard walking can be at pace, building it up has happened really very quickly, although i did give up some years ago now I do believe that my lungs are feeling much better. I have even made the commitment to try the Couch to 5k plan, heaven knows why with my physique! But so far so good and I can thoroughly recommend the podcasts. Although I imagine sticking to week one for at least a month at this rate, its HARD! well hard for a fat old woman who has never run before for fear of black eyes, takes some strapping to keep these from flapping up in my face I can tell you!
   Alongside the running/walking taking Roo swimming and baby groups and running up and down the stairs i have opted to use my Slimming world  recipes, I lost a fair amount following their plan before and the food is good, hubby isn't even noticing the difference really. I also have been using a book and CD combo that was given to me some time ago, more about that at a later date i think, i would like to see how I go with it before revealing it ;0).
  So far I have gone from walking to the shop and back to walking six miles a day and running 8 minutes every other day! Wish me more luck please!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

millionaires shortbread ..

millionaires moon ;0)

another tried and tested and slightly tweaked one here .. much easier than you think and great results every time .. 
4oz butter .. i always use butter .. why not its bad for you anyway!
6oz plain flour
2oz golden caster sugar 
1oz brown granulated sugar (you can use all caster but i quite like the extra crunch)

the tray i use is a silicone cake tray 9 inch square
you can put all of these ingredients into a food processor and  mix till it sticks
i tend to put them in a bowl and rub together with my hands .. just makes a crumblier mix .. don’t be over fussy just blend it together ..
press this into the bottom of the tray (greased although with silicone you don’t really need to grease)
bake for 25 minutes at gas four 
remove and cool somewhere cool ...

6oz butter
4oz golden caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
one can of condensed milk
throw all of this into a pan i use a heavy one ( i have cast iron pans) best to use something with a heavy bottom that’s non stick ..
slowly heat this mixture stirring continuously ( this does mean you cant leave it .. ive tried and it burns quickly) you need to make sure the sugar has melted .. i used butter from the fridge and generally once the butter has melted the sugar has too ( check if its melted by looking at the back of the spoon for granules) you must make sure all of the sugar is melted before you go on ...otherwise you get black dots in your caramel (which actually dont change the flavour they just look like dark dots in the caramel) .. once the sugar is dissolved you turn the heat up and bring to the boil DO NOT STOP STIRRING!! ... if you do again it will burn ... once its bubbling turn it down and simmer for 8-10m minutes stirring ... (arm aches but its worth it believe me!) you will know when its done when its thick =0) ... pour this on the cooled shortbread .. let it cool outside for a bit (on the counter) and then put it in the fridge for an hour ..

8oz of melted chocolate whichever is your preference on the top 
you can also try marbling dark/milk and white chocolate .. its so easy ... honestly!
if you marble get a third of a large bar each of dark and milk and melt in separate pans (over water on the stove is best .. microwave can ruin it ... use a spoon to paint stripes across cooled caramel .. swirl it about with a cocktail stick or the end of a knife .. whatever you have .. you can be even lines or more jackson pollock i prefer the later ...
then melt a small milky bar and drip dollops from a height over the swirled choc topping and swirl again .. shove it in the fridge and cool .. cut into as many pieces as possible and serve ... a hot knife will make better cuts =0) enjoy xx

The best apple cake/desert ever......... Probably

This recipe is an old old family recipe which my mother taught be while I was young, it had then been in the family for at least four generations that we know of. My grandfather was Austrian and his mother also with a Polish father. I think it is an Austrian recipe however. This is the best apple dessert I have ever tasted,and there have been a few believe me =0)
Please please let me know how it goes down as this is the first time I have shared this, I am sure there are plenty of similar twists on this but this is how it ended up in our family. It is great with cream or ice cream and equally with Custard I guess .. enjoy...

Apfel Krommel Torte
                     16oz Plain flour
                     8oz crystally brown sugar like Demerara
                     8 oz cubed butter from the fridge
                     2oz of sliced almonds/walnuts/pecans or all depending on preference, these can also be substituted for oats
                     10  cored and thinly sliced peeled apples about 10
                     2 tbsp lemon juice fresh is better but jif is fine
                     1 tsp grated nutmeg
                     1tsp cinnamon
                     Vanilla pod scraped
                     2tbsp icing sugar
Place 10-inch springform pan in centre of large piece of heavy-duty foil; press up around pan. Set aside. The foil will catch the escaping apple mix if it does ..=0)
In bowl, whisk flour with brown sugar. Using 2 knives, cut in butter until in pea-size pieces. This is your Krommel which is basically crumbs.
Press three-quarters over bottom and up side of prepared pan this makes kinda a pastry although you need to press reasonably hard don’t batter it it is good to be slightly loose if that makes sense. Stir almonds/nuts/oats into remaining Krommel; put this in the fridge.
In bowl, toss apples, lemon juice and nutmeg/cinnamon/vanilla pod; spread over pastry, pressing gently  
Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture (gently like faeries feet, I usually sprinkle it on and just lightly press with the tips of my fingers  the mix does its own thing as it cooks)  
 Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until golden and apples are tender, 1-1/2 hours. Run knife around edge; let cool in pan on rack. Dust with icing sugar.


Ways with apples
   There are so many Bramley’s and fallers about right now it is that and a request from a lovely mummy from the mummy group that has encouraged me to put together a few of my favourite apple recipes. Just yesterday around the corner heading out of the village someone had bags and bags of them outside their house bagged up to take away and a donation/honesty tin left with them. I picked up a bag yesterday to make some fruit leather and I may go back today and get some more for some other things! Lots of people have fruit tree’s that over produce for them and do similar which is fabulous for people like me that love to cook! I have also been pickling this month but that is a whole other story!
   I will start with a couple of savoury uses, both go down really well! I have a problem here that half us even at capacity do not have a sweet tooth, which is sometimes great(for dieting) and sometimes not (for when I NEED sugar;0);
Stuffed Chicken
·         2 (100g) skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
·         2 small apples, thinly sliced or coarsely shredded (I grate them its much easier with or without skins)
·         2 tablespoons grated mild Cheddar cheese
·         1 tablespoon breadcrumbs (about a slice of bread whatever colour you like this is just to hold it all together... you could even used gluten free then the recipe is good for coeliacs and allergic folks)
·         1 tablespoon butter (I use unsalted or even olive oil spread for a nice flavour)
·         60ml (2 fl oz) dry white wine
·         60ml (2 fl oz) water (as wine is generally drunk in our house and we have small people a chicken stock cube is just as good here)
·         1 tablespoon water
·         1 1/2 teaspoons cornflour
Mix up the apple, cheese and breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Flatten chicken breasts between sheets of greaseproof paper to about a thickness. Divide apple mixture between chicken breasts, and roll up each breast. Secure with toothpicks.
Met the butter in large frying pan over medium heat and brown the stuffed chicken breasts.
Add wine and water. Cover. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink this has to be on a low low heat smells lovely =0)
Take the chicken out, after mixing the cornflour with a little water add to the cooking stock and stir till thickened and pour over the chicken!
You can do similar with pork I still use the chicken stock cube , this is lovely and when you get the roll right looks like you have spent ages on it haha!

Herby chicken/pork and apple burgers
·         340 g (12 oz) minced chicken/pork (generally this is the small pack in the supermarket)
·         1 red onion, finely chopped
·         4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (again about a tablespoon in a slice and as before use gluten free if you have people that can’t eat those things)
·         2 green-skinned apples, such as Granny Smith (for a tart taste) or Golden Delicious (for a sweet taste), coarsely grated
·         1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
·         2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
·         sunflower oil, for brushing
·         salt and pepper
·         To serve:
·         1 tbsp clear honey
·         3 tbsp Dijon mustard
·         4 floury baps or burger rolls, split open

Put the minced chicken/pork, onion, breadcrumbs, apples, herbs and some seasoning in a bowl. Mix together with your hands. Wet your hands, then divide the mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a burger. Chill for 1 hour to firm up. Finish them off with damp hands to get rid of any finger marks etc , I tend to imagine I am squeezing brains during this part of the process ..
Brush them with a little oil  or fry light if you are being good =0) and cook over a moderate heat in a non-stick frying pan until browned on both sides, then reduce the heat a little and continue cooking until the burgers are completely cooked through – this should take about 20 minutes altogether. Turn from time to time to ensure cooking is even.
mix together the honey and mustard. Spread over the top cut surface of each bap or bun if you like it of course or just add ketchup or mayo ..
These are great for all ages I use lots of herbs has to be said and sometimes add my favourite garlic .. it is my favourite thing ;0).
If you make too many;they can be frozen raw if I am freezing I just freeze before I shape them

Apples are always good in Waldorf salad of course and beetroot works really well with them, I make a lot of ‘salsa’ type salads which are good with everything!

Ok now for the sweet stuff, I have way too many sweet stuff ideas for apples but I will only add a couple here, The main part of apple cooking is making the sauce, the sauce is so versatile you can put it in or on anything practically; crumbles, cakes, muffins, on pork, pancakes .. the list is endless. So here goes with my method.

Apple sauce
·         225g/8oz cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
·         ½ lemon, zest only
·         2 tbsp water
·         15g/½oz butter
·         1 tsp caster sugar (don’t add this if its for baby or  if you do not have a sweet tooth it is not needed)
Put the apples in a saucepan with the lemon zest and water. Cover and cook over a low heat until they are soft and mushy
Take off the heat and beat in the butter and the sugar. Cool.

Apple Crumble

2 0r three large cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
·         2 to 3 tablespoons caster sugar ( this is down to taste I personally do not use it here as it is in the topping)
·         Vanilla pod well half really
·         Crumble topping:
·         5 tablespoon flour (I use wholemeal or again for gluten free types spelt four)
·         50g (2 oz) butter
·         4 tablespoons demerera or light brown sugar
·         A tablespoon of porridge oats/nuts crushed depending on taste

Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5.
Layer the chopped apple in  your dish and sprinkle with sugar (if you are using it). Then top with the rest of the apple.
To make the crumble topping: Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add sugar and butter and rub in until mix looks like breadcrumbs. Then add the oats/nuts and mix. Spread the crumble topping on top of the apples. DO NOT PRESS DOWN .. leaving it loose and kinda in dollops makes the crumble come out much nicer =0)
Bake until the crumble is brown.
There are a million versions of this add what you like cinnamon/raisins/any other fruit .. great for pudding any day
The last one I will post deserves its own post...