Just a weekly bit of fun whereby I can natter about any culinary ‘inventions’, successes and disasters in the kitchen.
If ever I talk about a dish that you want more info on, let me know and I’ll do my best to elaborate!
I don’t do meat and sweet, so on this day I decided I wanted to make fruit cocktail chicken! I know, I know, fruit and meat. A mad thought one day was the inspiration for this dish, and I’m not sorry I’m mad!
So… Fruit cocktail (fruit salad), tinned; in natural juice is one of the few tins I try and keep in the cupboard. To make this strange Sunday dinner I undressed the chicken (removing string and shaking it out) and plonked it into a shallow roasting dish (a lasagne type dish), then added washed but unpeeled baby new potatoes around it. Next I went to my go to ingredient… garlic! In this instance (and in most instances) I added four cloves, crushed, to the opened tin of fruit cocktail which was then poured mainly over the potatoes, but I allowed a little of the juice over the chicken. I then poured a little chicken stock (made from a cube) to the potatoes, not much; about 200ml, but I used the whole stock cube. I finally seasoned the chicken and shoved it into the oven to roast. I left it for the time it takes to cook the chicken, but at some point I added foil to parts that had browned quickly because of the sweetness of the juice. Other than that I didn’t have to look at it.
When the chicken was ready I put it and the now roasted new potatoes on a warm carving tray, taking care to leave the fruit pieces in the roasting dish. Once the potatoes were out, I took a right angled metal potato masher to the chicken-y, garlic-y, fruity, liquid that was left in the dish until it resembled gravy, which I thickened just a little more with chicken gravy granules.
I served the fruit cocktail chicken and potatoes with steamed mange-tout. It was delicious!
I had planned to make Vietnamese chicken salad, but I decided I would prefer a pad thai-ish. This is my variation of a pad Thai, and one that I don’t have to use a recipe for. And I love the dish because the prep is modular!
So… we had leftover chicken from Sunday which was the main protein. At some point during the day I took the chicken off the carcass, stuck it in a container and back in the fridge. Next I bashed a few peanuts and put those in a container. Okay… everything will be put in its own container and either stuck back in the fridge or left out. Next I chopped spring onion from one mahoosive spring onion (nearly a metre long!) from our friend’s garden. I made up a liquor for the pad Thai-ish consisting of equal measures of brown sugar, dark soy, fish sauce, and tamarind liquid. To that liquor I added a clove of garlic and a spritz of lime juice. I put all of these ingredients into a clean jam jar for easy mixing later.
Nearer the time I used a potato peeler to make carrot ribbons using two carrots, and even nearer the time I chopped fresh mint and coriander.
At dinner time I put the rice stick noodles in a large bowl and covered them with boiling water to sit for 7 minutes whilst I cooked the rest. Adding a little sunflower oil to my wok I chucked in the spring onion, carrot, and chicken, and stir fried it for a minute or two. Then I added the magic liquid stir frying a minute or two more. When the noodles were soft I strained them, chucking them into the wok with the bashed peanuts, stirring well for until all was combined. Finally I added most of the fresh coriander. At this point I would usually add the mint too, but husb apparently doesn’t like the dish with mint. HOW CAN THAT BE?! Anyway, I love him dearly so I left the mint out, sprinkling it liberally on my own meal and tossing it through before eating. I really could eat this stuff every day!
I love a chilli, but we always use ground beef, this time I wanted to try cubed meat. Our supermarket had ‘diced beef’ on offer, we used it last week in a curry so we got more of that because it cooked really well. I browned the meat off first before removing it and setting aside. In the same pan I sautéed the trinity of onion, pepper, and celery until translucent or soft. When the trinity was glistening I added cumin, paprika, cayenne, dried oregano, a smidge of cinnamon, and a little cocoa powder, stirring and cooking out for a minute or two. At this point I added the browned meat and a splodge of tomato paste. I like to cook the tomato paste out for 6 minutes before adding liquid, re chef extraordinaire Simon Rimmer’s advice and it really does work! Then – differently from the ground meat chilli – I sprinkled in a couple of dessertspoons of flour and stirred that in before adding a tin of tomatoes, kidney beans, a fresh chilli, snipped with scissors, and beef stock to cover. Then it was just left to do its own thing until the meat was tender and the sauce was thick. I served what is nearly my favourite chilli con carne ever sprinkled with fresh coriander and strands of lime zest, boiled basmati rice, and warmed tortilla chips.
… Our guest was here and we had take-away, but I’m that behind I can’t remember what!
… We were supposed to be having sausage, mash & onion gravy, but I couldn’t be bothered! I made a chicken noodle soup with more leftover chicken, stock made from the carcass, rice stick noodles and julienned veg (carrots and spring onions). It was certainly cheap and cheerful!
I wanted to try a double test. The first test? Using ground turkey instead of beef in a lasagne. The second test? Using cottage cheese instead of a béchamel/cheese sauce. If this worked it would save a chunk of faff when making a lasagne. I think the cottage cheese idea was from Simon Rimmer’s mum incidentally – see Tuesday and tomato paste – !
Anyway, I made the ragout in the usual way, brown meat and remove, sauté onion and garlic, add meat back, tomato paste (cook out six minutes), then salt and pepper, oregano, mixed herbs, passata, and grated carrot, I like to hide extra veg and lasagne is perfect for that. I then cooked out the ragout until thick and absolutely delicious. I check at some point to make sure I don’t need to add a sprinkle of sugar, but passata usually isn’t acidic.
So… Assembling the lasagne I just used cottage cheese, then a sprinkling of grated parmesan and mozzarella instead of the sauce and layered it up with ragout and pasta sheets. Unfortunately I had to be sparing with the cottage cheese – I could have done with another tub – but I saved the majority for the top. I added extra mozzarella on the top layer, I like the way it crisps up, and then I threw the assembled lasagne in the oven for about forty minutes.
I served the lasagne with basic salad, and I must say this was a great start. Next time I’ll use more cottage cheese, add cheddar, and more parmesan. Husb commented that he was ‘getting dairy’, and he does cheese, but not other dairy so I think the extra cheddar and parmesan might de-dairy the ‘sauce’, if not I’ll go back to plan A!
… Leftovers! Lasagne!