cooking

Food I made last week

Here are some things I made last week that didn’t quite make the cut of having their own blog post.

Cheese and chive bubble & squeak: These were so tasty! And they did make it onto Facebook, if not onto here…

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Spiced carrot and tomato soup: Made with vegetable stock created from the odds and ends of vegetables sitting  in the bottom of the fridge – leek ends, floppy celery, old cherry tomatoes! Eaten in the sunshine:

Biscotti: Made according to a recipe that I cobbled together from reading various recipes and articles. I made half traditional almond (so yummy!), and half Chinese five spice. I really wasn’t sure about the Chinese five spice – too fennel-y for my tastes – but my housemate really liked them dipped in tea. I’m thinking I might do a biscotti feature properly in the future. We shall see!

Teriyaki salmon parcel: This was loosely inspired by a BBC Good Food recipe but it definitely needs work. The shredded cabbage cooked perfectly, but the broccoli was a bit too crisp even for me. And the sauce I made wasn’t great. I do think I’ll try again; it does feel like the concept has promise.

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Cheese and tomato quiche: This is the first full-sized quiche that I’ve made; I’ve always been a mini-quiche kind of girl. 😃 I went for blind baking the pastry, smearing on some tomato purée, and then adding a mixture of eggs, milk, salt & pepper, tomato, fried red onion, cheddar cheese and chives. The only problem was that I over-cooked it, which meant the pastry on the edges was dark and brittle, and the quiche’s texture wasn’t quite right. I still took it to my friend’s Sugar Free-themed birthday party – it was too late to make anything else! – and it all seemed to get eaten.

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Soy and honey marinated stir-fry steak: This is a recipe I made up a few weeks ago, and I’m still tweaking it. Currently, I cut the steak in strips against the grain of the meat (so that it’s easy to chew). Then, I marinate the steak pieces in corn flour, light soy sauce, a little honey, and lots of black pepper, for just half an hour at room temperature. Next, I chop up my vegetables, blanch them quickly (this time I didn’t do it quickly enough!), and keep them ready in cold water. The cold water stops them over softening, at least in theory. Once the meat’s done marinating, I fry the steak in a hot pan until just browned, before adding the veg for a couple of minutes.

I definitely sprinkled too many spring onions on top this time. I could taste them until bedtime! But the sesame seeds added some visual interest. 😊

So that’s what I’ve been up to. What have you guys been cooking this week? I’m always ready to be inspired.

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cooking

Roast Potatoes: The King of Potatoes

“Harry’s mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes…” – J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Roast potatoes are special food. When I think about roasties, I think of my Granny’s roast dinners. Her potatoes were always perfectly crisp and golden on the outside, and fluffy white on the inside. And made all the better for her special gravy. Her perfect potatoes would always be one of the things I’d really look forward to about a summer or Christmas visit to my grandparents’ wonderful, middle-of-nowhere, surrounded-by-fields, barn-conversion home.

Being the best food in the world, the bowl of potatoes never seemed quite full enough to my hungry eyes, and I’d be hoping hard throughout the whole meal that I’d be able to go back for seconds. Which normally I could! There are definitely perks to being a hopeful-looking, wide-eyed child.

Man, I miss my grandparents. I always felt ridiculously loved on those trips.

Roast Potato Kitchen Adventures

Inspired by grandmother, I’ve been trying to pull off the perfect roast potato for years. Since we didn’t really do them at home – except maybe at Christmas – roast potatoes weren’t part of my natural repertoire, which has meant an excellent opportunity for lots of kitchen adventures over the years.

During those adventures, I’ve definitely discovered that roast potatoes are more of an art than a science, but some top tips don’t hurt! Over the years these are some of the things I’ve picked up from people like Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver, and random people on the internet:

Roast potatoes and parsnips

Number One: Check how long your meat will take to cook. I’ve often forgotten to do this and started my potatoes too late! You will want your potatoes to be done when your meat has finished resting, so plan to start making your potatoes two hours before you’ll be carving. Although, you can par-boil them before this and keep them ready for when you’re actually going to cook them.

Number Two: Use floury white potatoes, but don’t worry too much about being too particular. It doesn’t matter too much at all as long as they’re floury.

Number Three: Use a handful of potato per person. I do have quite small hands, but I stretch them pretty wide to hold a fair amount of potato – I try and visualise how big a baked potato I’d do for someone. And then I do an extra medium sized potato per 4 people, so people can go back for seconds!

Number Four: Peel and cut the potatoes into wedge shapes, using diagonal cuts, rather than just straight down the middle, that way you end up with some narrower sections which crisp up amazingly.

Number Five: Par-boil your potatoes for 5-10 minutes – until when when you run a table knife or fork along their surface, it leaves a trail in the soft layer of cooked potato over the surface of the potato. But don’t over par-boil them otherwise they will fall apart, so keep an eye on them. When you get this right, oh my days is the crispiness amazing!

Number Six: Drain the potatoes – you can be a bit rough, as a bashed up surface adds crispiness – and add your seasonings/flavourings. I am a mixed herb, sea salt and black pepper kind of a girl.

Number Seven: Make sure your oil has gotten properly hot in the oven. I use whatever oil is in the cupboard, but I know people swear by duck fat.

Number Eight: Take out your pan out of the oven and pour your potatoes in, making sure they all get covered in the fat.

Number Nine: Pop your potatoes back into the oven and cook for an hour and a half on the heat you are using for the meat – probably Gas Mark 5 – 6. This is where it is a bit of an art. You have to learn your oven. On a number of occasions, I’ve ended up with potatoes which haven’t gone crispy. It’s much better to have to take the potatoes out early and keep them warm in the grill above the oven (with the grill off) than to have underdone roasties!

Number Ten: You’ll probably want to shake the pan around to mix the potatoes up, midway through their cooking time.

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And a bonus, Number Eleven: You can also do parsnips or carrots in with your roasties, but they take less time to roast. As you can see from my photos, the last time I did them, I forgot and put my parsnips in at the start. They ended up a bit overdone!

Roast potatoes are the king of potatoes. Crunchy, soft and delicious. And that smell! I really don’t think you can beat it, especially if they are set alongside all the trimmings… gravy, bread sauce, mint sauce (I’m imagining lamb!), Yorkshire puddings (because they shouldn’t just be with beef), stuffing and all the other good stuff!

Happiness is a Sunday roast with special people.

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