My mad weekly kitchen diary

Just a weekly bit of fun whereby I can natter about any culinary ‘inventions’, successes and disasters in the kitchen, whilst trying to get the best out of leftovers.

See below for larger image
See below for larger image


… I needed comfort food of the highest order so I decided on a roast chicken dinner with many of the trimmings. I’m always on a quest to make the humble roast chicken the best that it can be so I’ve been trying to get under its skin, if you’ll forgive the pun. After the chicken had been out of the fridge for a while to come up to room temperature I loosened the skin on the breast with a hand then put a few slivers of butter underneath. I don’t use butter usually but I wanted to try it. I then rubbed the outside with the usual oil and seasoned the chicken with sea salt infused with rosemary (I ground the infused salt in the pestle and mortar) and freshly ground black pepper before shoving it in the oven to roast. There were a few different vegetables on offer at the place we shop so we got a great deal on sprouts, parsnips, and swede, which all happen to go REALLY well with roast chicken. I baked potatoes to make baked potato mash but wanted to add swede too (neeps and tatties). When I boil swede in water a lot of water comes out when it’s cooked and I have to hold the ricer over the sink for the first part of the crush because I don’t want all that liquid in my potatoes so on this day I decided to wrap half a swede in foil and roast it in the oven. Changing the cooking method made absolutely no difference to the amount of liquid that leached out after cooking. Next time I’ll try steaming if only because it saves more of the nutrients, which will possibly be lost in the liquid I get rid of when ricing!

I peeled and sliced the parsnips, removing the woody core from the thickest part then par boiled them. Later on I tossed them in a little oil and seasoning and chucked them in the oven to roast.

I like bread sauce and sage and onion stuffing with roast chicken but I can’t always be bothered to make them from scratch. In fact, I only tend to make my own stuffing for the festive dinner and the rest of the time I don’t mind boxed stuffing. I could make breadcrumbs and add onion and sage but as it’s not a special super duper stuffing I’ll let the stuffing people do it. With the bread sauce I do make it more often but this time I didn’t. I was running low on stuffing and I didn’t have any of my usual brand of bread sauce so we decided to buy them from our discount supermarket to compare. The stuffing was great, and I’ll keep that in from now on, but the bread sauce wasn’t to my liking. I cooked it in the microwave as per instructions and it looked split. I had to thicken it to make it look more palatable. I have one packet of the bread sauce left so I’ll cook it on the hob to see if that makes a difference, but in the meantime I have a load of packets of my usual brand ordered on my next online shop!

The sprouts were just steamed and the gravy was the chicken juices, water and a little instant gravy granules. The chicken was delicious, but I won’t use butter again because the skin was much darker where the butter sat. Sorry that was so long winded, I’ll speed up!


… I took the meat off the chicken and boiled the rest to make a stock for tonight’s dinner. I wanted to use leeks (that were on offer) and leftover chicken in a chicken and leek risotto. I always use carnaroli rice instead of arborio, I prefer it. I just sautéed the leeks (and garlic) in a little oil, added and coated the rice, added a glug of white wine, reduced that, then added the hot stock a ladleful at a time until almost done, then I added the cooked chicken and seasoning. Incidentally it was also delicious cold!


… I found a recipe for roasted savoy cabbage (I linked to it last week) which is a revelation. The other revelation, but not a good one is that the German supermarket we use weekly doesn’t sell sauerkraut. WHAT is that about?! I often think about the food my wonderful foster mother used to cook, and one of her quick meals (she was a working mum) was smoked pork sausage, sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. It doesn’t sound much but I LOVED this meal, probably the acidic properties of the cabbage. Anyway, so I can’t get sauerkraut easily and then I find this recipe for the savoy cabbage. It absolutely does the job of the sauerkraut as far as I’m concerned, and a baked potato is a good substitute for boiled potatoes after a busy day. I just chop the cabbage, add a little oil and seasoning, then roast for about twenty minutes, stirring once. When it comes out of the oven add the juice of half a lemon. Delicious!!


… It was the equivalent of take-away night and WedJ was visiting so I decided on fish finger sandwiches. Okay, so they weren’t quite ordinary fish finger sandwiches! We used crusty bloomer for the bread, the best fish fingers we could find and I added preserved lemons to mayo in which to dip curly oven fries. I had tartare sauce on my sandwich, C had preserved lemon mayo, WedJ had margarine (yuk!) and tartare sauce on his. For a fish finger sandwich meal it was very good, but sorry… I was so busy I forgot to take a pic.


… I had 250g of minced lamb in the freezer so I decided to make shepherd’s pie baked potatoes. In the past I’d made cottage pie baked potatoes and they were a success. I put the potatoes in to bake and started on the shepherd’s ragout. I dry fried the lamb to get rid of any excess fat removed it from the pan, then sautéed onion and garlic until the onion was soft. I added the browned lamb, grated carrot, a lamb stock cube and a dessert spoon of plain flour to thicken the sauce later. I cooked that off for a few minutes then added water to cover, and a sprig of rosemary for extra flavour. I let that simmer for a while, probably about half an hour, on low then when the sauce was reduced and thick I took it off the heat to cool.

When the potatoes where baked I cut each in half and scooped out most of the flesh into a bowl before adding seasoning, a little butter and a splash of milk to mash. I dried out the shells for ten minutes in the oven then added the ragout, and topped with the mash, smoothing the edges. To finish I put them back in the oven for twenty minutes to brown the potato a little. I served the shepherd’s pie baked potatoes with roast parsnips, petits pois, and instant gravy…


… Now… I’ve been wanting to try this dish for a while, and I hope it’s my invention. Garlic mushroom lasagne. Not mushroom lasagne with a little garlic. Very GARLIC mushroom lasagne. You know, the sort of garlic mushrooms you might have as a starter, on toast. The sort of garlic mushrooms you can only eat if your partner does too otherwise you can’t kiss for a few weeks.

Anyway… even though we ‘planned’ for this dish, before I started, I felt there would not be enough mushrooms but it was a good starting point.

I began by peeling and quartering two punnets (350g each) of standard closed cup mushrooms, plus one large field mushroom we had leftover from Sunday. My thoughts were to make my garlic mushrooms as usual so I did it in two batches, hard frying each seasoned batch in a little oil until the aroma of caramelised mushrooms hit me and the mushrooms had good brown spots. When the mushrooms started to release their liquid I took them off the heat and added four large cloves of garlic (to each batch), crushed. I let the mushrooms marinate for about half an hour (or longer if there’s time) before putting them back on the heat to evaporate all of that liquid.

Very garlic mushrooms ready and cooling I made a cheese sauce. I didn’t follow a recipe, I just made a roux from one dessert spoon of plain flour, the same of margarine in which I melted then cooked off the flour. After about five minutes I started adding my uht skinned milk until the sauce was the correct consistency. I cooked the completed but unseasoned sauce for about five minutes as it would be cooking later then added a mixture of cheddar and parmesan until the sauce was very cheesy, it then only needed pepper which I added.

I then layered up the sauce, part cooked lasagne sheets, sauce, mushrooms, lasagne sheets, sauce, mushrooms, sheets, and finally sauce. I only got two layers in my medium sized baking dish (four generous portions) because of the lack of mushrooms. I topped the lasagne with grated parmesan and put it in the oven to bake. It took about forty five minutes.

Although I needed more mushrooms, in that baking dish at least a kilo, it cannot be described how good this very garlic mushroom lasagne was. The layers looked measly because of the lack of mushrooms but my husband said he would choose that over meat lasagne any day. I served the lasagne with salad.


… leftover very garlic mushroom lasagne with salad. Yum!

Roast chicken dinner, chicken & leek risotto, smoked pork sausage with roasted savoy cabbage, shepherd's pie baked potato, & very garlic mushroom lasagne.
Roast chicken dinner, chicken & leek risotto, smoked pork sausage with roasted savoy cabbage, shepherd’s pie baked potato, & very garlic mushroom lasagne.
My mad weekly kitchen diary

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