Dinner and #BoardCooking

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Sunday, 8 Jan – Well, after a socialable day yesterday, woke up feeling a bit flat today. Luckily, the family felt the same and suggested we go out for a posh sandwich and a wander around the old part of town nearby.

Must say after the usual problems of parking (now can’t park on the single yellow line), we rebelliously parked out of town and walked in thus saving paying to park on a Sunday. Not surprised people shop online. Not for me though.

Anyway, it was great to get out and about and chat with family and wander around the shops. Popped into a new pub/restaurant and had a quick drink too. Surprisingly, we’ve had a few new establishments arrive locally, which, as so many pubs are closing down, is encouraging.

This evening I decided to finish up yesterday’s leftovers. Bought some seabass so chopped up courgettes, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Also, added herbs, paprika, cream cheese and wine. Cooked the fish and removed the skin, then cooked the veggie mix, added cheese and wine and after a few minutes threw in the spaghetti.

Have to say, although it looks a mess, it was delicious and I’ve managed to get rid of a few leftovers. Called it board cooking because all the ingredients are prepared on a board and then tossed in a pan. Easy, quick and yummy.

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Having lunch…oh yes…

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So I invited my friend to lunch and decided to cook something simple, tasty but satisfying. As we had such a much needed, uplifting day, thought I’d blog about it..

Somebody very important in my life suggested fresh spaghetti with a cherry tomato sauce. Fantastic, I thought. Means I can add a few side dishes like mushrooms with chorizo and fried, fresh prawns followed by a fruit crumble pudding.

Started with the fruit crumble by throwing some berries in a dish and making the crumble. Just lard and butter rubbed into the flour plus sugar. Simple and quick and the ice cream that was languishing in the freezer, just waiting to be thrown down my throat, accompanied the pud.

Next I chopped tomatoes up with garlic, herbs and chilli. Measured out the wine. Oh yes. Fried the garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil then added herbs and chilli. Added toms (2 mins) then splashed in the wine and enjoyed the exquisite smell that permeated the kitchen. Oh, and I put some cool, jazzy, funky tunes on.

Fried my chestnut mushrooms in butter with chorizo and left ready. Same with the grey prawns that rapidly turned pink. Sooo magical. Put some chips, manchego cheese and serano ham on the starter plate and was ready to roll. Well lay the table anyway.

Sorted the table, tidied and cleaned up, lit candles and waited a few minutes for my friend.

Great to catch up. We discussed recent Christmas times, trips (Rome), buying/selling clothes online, health, fitness laughed and moaned but mostly laughed. Of course, new year resolutions were discussed too. She wants me to start a ladies supper group…

Yes, the lunch wasn’t particularly healthy, but it felt decadent and I’m working up to my new year’s healthy regime. She enjoyed the food and said it is the sort of food you get in Strada. Taken that as a compliment (I think)…

Ha! Since received a thank you message saying the food was spot on. :-))

Details..

Cherry Tomato Spaghetti- Fresh spaghetti, 1 lb top quality cherry toms, garlic, chilli, herbs and wine.

Add: Chorizo, mushrooms and/or prawns, as I did.

Pud – Mixed fruit and crumble (1oz butter, 1oz lard, 4oz plain flour) mixed berries and sugar on top.

Prep time 40 mins.

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Cooking with love….


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Today we invited family over. Family we haven’t seen for a while. This is a great excuse to do some cooking and so I decided to cook a lamb roast with apple pie for pudding. Also, some carrot cakes for tea.

So, we could have eaten out, but I like cooking and spent an hour the day before making my fairy cakes and apple pie.  Once you get going, it is fun. This is a great excuse to do some cooking and it won’t take long.  Put some fun tunes on, get all the ingredients out, pour a glass of something and off you go.

For the apple pie… Pastry – 1oz lard / 1oz butter and 40z plain flour plus a little milk – Filling – Cooking apples and sugar (and splash of milk to put on pastry and a little more sugar)

Lard, butter and plain flour, rub it until it’s like breadcrumbs, then add a little milk and roll until a ball, then throw some flour down and roll into a circle. Meanwhile, peel apples, slice into a bowl, sugar in top and shove into the microwave for about 6 mins.  Well, this isn’t healthy, but you are entertaining. When the apples are soft take out and cool.  Later put the pastry on, smooth a dab of milk and oh dear, more sugar.  Well, it is calorific but oh well.  I cooked the apple pie the next day, before popping the roast in.

The cakes are just a fairy cake/cup cake mix, but with brown sugar plus a carrot, grated, chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon.

The roast went in at 11am with a mixture of cream cheese, butter and fresh rosemary on the leg of lamb. Some wine was poured into the tin and covered with foil. The lamb cooked in the wine steam and produced some glorious gravy.

Peel some small potatoes and parsnips and put the potatoes in at midday.  They were dabbed with a little butter and rosemary. Parsnips were added about 12.30. The broccoli and carrots were boiled at 1pm and our guests arrived.

The gravy was decanted from the meat. Everything was put in dishes for and taken to the table. The meal was enjoyed with some wine. Really liked cooking, eating and catching up on the family news.

Don’t forget to lay the table so it looks super. Plates, vegetable bowls and when you have the evening tea, use teapots, cups and saucers.  Cook and present the food and drink, with love.  It is fun and your guests will appreciate the effort.

The afternoon was spent wandering around our local, beautiful park.  A great way to get some fresh air and exercise and work off some of the large dinner.  Followed by more cups of tea, salad and quiche and more family arriving. They seem to devour the cakes too! When our visitors left, we had a small glass of wine, but soon flopped into bed. Phew.

A great day and I have forgotten how much I love entertaining.  Oh and I didn’t put any weight on.  Fabulous.  Hope you are inspired to cook with love…

Tip alert..

– Use fresh ingredients

– Cook from scratch and with love

– Prepare a pudding and cakes the day before

– Prepare ingredients before you start

– Put on some jazzy, lively tunes

– Use your best crockery and accessories  (veg bowls, tea pots, table cloths)

– Enjoy the day and delegate (have a tea/coffee making monitor)

 

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Canterbury Food and Drink Festival

 

Yesterday, I visited the above in the Dane John Gardens, Canterbury, which is showcasing an incredible selection of food and drink. As a CAMRA member, I do enjoy a pint of ale or two and thoroughly enjoyed the day out. We travelled by train to Canterbury West and strolled through the busy town towards the Gardens.  The Festival was the place to be, as it was the official launch of Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight (Friday 23rd Sept).

 

I went to the festival with my husband and other CAMRA folk and we managed to arrive early and quickly settled with our pints, by the bandstand, and spent a fulfilling day listening to all types of music (folk/rock), eating, drinking and chatting.

 

Also, much of the time was enjoyed wandering around the stalls looking at crafts, beers, ciders, pies, breads, cheeses, cured meats, kebabs, curries, burgers, fish, etc. The quality was of a very high standard with lots of tasty salads and veggies too.  Some obscure ingredients were added to some of the traditional foods such as the chilli and chocolate pork sausages and the friendly cheese lady who sold us some chilli cheese and English brie.  The unusual variety of food is what made this festival particularly fascinating, plus, of course, there was a great selection of dishes for tasting with plenty of beer, wine and cider to sup too.

 

The weather was superb as it was sunny all day but not too hot.  A relaxing and interesting day which I will probably repeat next year.

My salad in a jar!

A colleague who is also trying to follow a healthy lifestyle has kindly obtained this super kilner jar for me. She has been bringing in to work some amazing salads. Here is my first effort.

The idea is to make the salad attractive and tempting by layering the ingredients.  It is best to put the dressing on the bottom and something hard like carrots above.  I layered mine with carrots, mushrooms and a pepper then added tomatoes, lettuce, beetroot, cucumber and slices of turkey.  Oh and another cheeky dollop of mayonnaise on top.

A little tricky to eat but fun to stick your fork in and wonder what is going to appear.  Delicious.

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Last minute roasted veg..

So I’ve returned from my lovely break in Weymouth, rushed around the supermarket for a few bits, and realised I didn’t buy any potatoes.

With lunches in mind as well as dinner, decided to do a massive tray of roasted veg and throw the few little potatoes in that I found looking miserable in the cupboard.  Usually, cook beans and mash with sausages but it will be good to make something different.

Nothing like a last minute change of plan but at least I’ve got some roasted veg lunches for the remainder of the week.

Roasted veg: potatoes, courgettes, pepper, carrot, red onion, mushrooms, herbs, seasoning and splash of oil.

Enjoy!  Have you any last minute recipes?

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Grotty fruit smoothie…

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A few days ago, I was just thinking about leaving to go to Dorset for a mini break, and realised I’ve still got 3 grotty bananas. So decided I couldn’t eat them before leaving and gathered all the old fruit from my fridge and made a smoothie to freeze for when I return.

The end result was delicious. No need to waste old fruit or veg.  Just peel, chop and blend, blend and blend some more.  Only took a few minutes to prepare an amazing breakfast.

Another aspect of minimalism, is not have any waste so this is an enjoyable way of reducing waste and having a yummy drink for breakfast.

Recipe: bananas, peaches, oranges, almond milk and blend until smooth.

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Food ideas and running…

Started thinking about food plans and made a delicious mushroom risotto. Super easy to cook. Just chop up a variety of mushrooms with red onions, fresh basil, stock, ground pepper, risotto rice and, of course, a splash of white wine. Yummy, quick to cook and quite filling too.

Also, an effort was made to join the park runners on Saturday and a new pb was secured. The first lap was easier but the second, well, that was tough. It was nice to run with other runners instead of struggling at the back with the walkers.

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What are your thoughts on cooking?

Did you sit and watch an adult cook, as a child?  If you did, you may have been given the inspiration to cook, as an adult.  If not, how about giving it a go?  Inspiration is what is needed in life.  That way, you can aspire to do most things.

Cooking was always a fascination but not always easy.  The secret is to be inspired and then practice and practice some more.  Use fresh, simple ingredients and relax.  Prepare the foods first and think what you need, in advance.  A pot of hot water for potatoes or the oven warmed up ready for a cake.  Someone should have told me all this, when I was struggling to cook at school.  I forgot to put the eggs in the gingerbread cake and my mother was furious.  To this day, I loathe gingerbread cake.

Memories of watching my mother bake and roll pastry still stay with me.  Hot fresh dinners, not always what I liked, but eaten anyway.  Midnight school trip feasts, picnics by the lake and hot summer afternoons messing about by the stream all sum up a childhood.  The first dinner, I cooked for my husband, pork roast with jam tart pudding.  Not much of a clue.  Potatoes were hard but things soon got better and I was considered a good cook by his family.  Now I love cooking and the memories…  It is all about inspiration.

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