My Mad Weekly Kitchen Diary

Okay… I’m not the biggest fan of macaroni cheese, because I’m not that keen on pasta, but occasionally I bite the bullet and make it because it fits with that week’s menu. I like to balance my week’s food as far as possible so that will include some sort of pasta.

Anyway… This was one of those days, and this day I also happened to be craving a dish my foster mum used to make which was white fish in cheese sauce, with potatoes and peas. This day, I had to use pasta though (booooo!), so I pushed my craving down and tried to come up with a pasta dish. The thought of fish and cheese sauce constantly tried to reach the surface, and ultimately gave me the idea of ‘Seafood macaroni cheese’!

I had basa fillets in the freezer along with prawns. I also had mussel meat in said freezer but didn’t think mussel meat would look very pretty.

I tend not to follow a recipe when I make a roux, I just use equal parts of butter or some such* and plain flour, then add my milk a little at a time until the sauce is the consistency I want. But as a guide, 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour/butter makes about 500ml (a pint ish) of sauce.

In this instance though, I poached the basa in milk, then used that milk to make the sauce before adding grated mature cheddar until the sauce was very cheesy. When the sauce was complete I added the defrosted cooked, peeled prawns and warmed them through before adding the basa and cooked macaroni. Once I’d piled it all into a baking dish I sprinkled panko breadcrumbs mixed with a little parmesan over the top and shoved it under the grill to brown. I didn’t want the seafood to overcook by baking.

The resulting Seafood mac and cheese was delicious, and it definitely upped my enjoyment rate!

Seafood macaroni cheese
Seafood macaroni cheese

*Sometimes I use sunflower oil instead of butter because I’m melting it anyway.

My Mad Weekly Kitchen Diary

A methi in my madness?

Some occurrences are just weird, and this rambling perhaps will highlight that, or may highlight that I’m seeing something in nothing…

My father died some years ago, at least nine years. You may think it’s odd that I don’t know down to the minute the time of his demise, but we were estranged, I hadn’t had contact with him for many years before I found out he’d died.

A kind friend of his gave me a few personal effects, cookery books and the like, for which I was very grateful as the few good memories I have of my father are food related, he was a fantastic cook, of many ethnic styles. Amongst the personal effects was an old exercise book in which he had written many recipes; there was even a recipe written in my probably twelve years old handwriting that he must have dictated as he tested and cooked a dish.

The Exercise Book
The Exercise Book

So… In the years since I’ve had the book I’ve read it from cover to cover, and looked at each piece of paper he tore from magazines and stowed amongst the pages. One of my hobbies is reading cookery books (then not following the recipe), and as such I’ve read my father’s book many times. In fact, I look at it so often I keep it on top of a pile of books on the coffee table shelf.

The pile of books!
The pile of books!

So here’s the weird bit… two Sundays ago I was building a new TV unit in a bid to stop the kitten from strangling herself amongst the wires that the old open TV unit did nothing to hide, but on my own it was difficult to keep the unit straight, so I had the brainwave to prop some of the unit on books. I was kneeling by the coffee table so I was able to grab from my pile of mahoosive cookery books to create a level. The exercise book, being the smallest was not needed so I pulled it from the top of the pile and placed it on the table top. I then used the three cookery books on the pile to bolster the unit whilst I put in the locking cams.

I happily worked away for some time building the unit, then just happened to glance at the last book that would usually be the bottom of the pile, and noticed a lone piece of paper on top of said book with my father’s handwriting on. I reached for the paper and scanned it, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up…

The lone piece of paper!
The lone piece of paper!

You see, my favourite Indian curry is ‘Methi’, which is a rich dark sauce made with fenugreek leaves. It’s difficult to get in a takeaway; it’s not that usual in Indian restaurants, so of late I’ve been trying to recreate it myself from a solitary recipe I found online, again recipes are few and far between.

My father's recipe, previously unseen!
My father’s recipe, previously unseen!

I can honestly say I have never seen that recipe of my dad’s before, and my love of Methi based curry was nothing to do with my dad, so I didn’t realise he had ever made it, and in all of the times I pored over that book I didn’t see that slip of paper, I would go as far as to say it wasn’t there, and it wasn’t sitting on that book either. It’s like it was put there so I would notice!




A methi in my madness?

My mad weekly kitchen diary

I’m not a chef, but I do like ‘extreme cooking’ (winging it in the kitchen)! I’ve never knowingly followed a recipe completely, so hopefully this will be a weekly bit of fun whereby I can natter about any culinary ‘inventions’, successes, and disasters in the kitchen. If I remember I may also add photos, but I’m usually too busy cooking!



… is usually a ‘Sunday Roast’. Then recently we were given something that has made some Sunday dinners easy for me… a rotisserie. It seems a rotisserie is the indoor equivalent of an barbecue, and as such, it is my husband’s domain! Last Sunday was one of those easier days as C wanted to roast a chicken. He adds secret herbs & spices, oil, and fresh lemon then does the deed with the mahoosive skewer before setting our dinner to spit roast. Very quickly the aroma is intoxicating, but we have to wait until the little chook is roasted to perfection and has given up its delicious jus, before crowning the accompaniments with its chicken-y goodness. Last Sunday it was simply fresh tiger baton bread and a mixed salad, which, if you know me is very un-Sunday-dinner like!



… is an uber busy day for me so I try hard not to think too much about dinner but I usually fail. Ideally we have leftovers from Sunday but as we had the chicken there was a breast left over for a lunch sandwich, & the bones to make a stock and that was it, so I had to think about dinner. I am at my most dangerous when I’m ‘thinking about dinner’, and this day was no exception. The meal I concocted was a little out there. I baked two large potatoes and pan fried chopped bacon, onion, mushroom and some fresh diced tomato at the end. For dinner I piled the split potato with the bacon mix before topping it with poached egg. My logic… “It’s like egg and chips and Sunday breakfast all rolled into one!”



… I went with an old favourite, chilli con carne. Even if I do say so myself I make a pretty good chilli, but I can also get it cooking without too much thinking. Maybe I should have made it on Monday! I constantly tweak my chilli as I strive to make the ‘best chilli ever’. Recently I’ve subbed half of the ground beef for ground pork which adds extra flavour; I just dry fry the pork first to render out the fat. Just some of my seasonings are; cumin, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. If I let you into my secret I would have to kill you! I served it with some fluffy basmati rice & a few shop bought tortilla chips.



… our friend comes for dinner and a natter. The only problem is he eats a lot! He is very appreciative so I enjoy cooking for him; I just have to come up with enough sustenance for this hardworking and hard eating man that I’ll call WedJ. I also try to keep the workload down, because prepping enough food, then cooking it, and clearing and washing up afterwards is a little tough when you’ve worked most of the day on either work work or housework. Cost is also a factor because I try to keep to a budget, self employed you know! So… I came up with a variation on a fish taco. I did fish finger wraps. So I grilled cod fish fingers and warmed flour tortillas. For the ‘sauce’ I mixed some mayo with my homemade volcanic chilli sauce; then put everything together with romaine lettuce, cucumber and my home pickled red onion. On the side we had oven fries. It was delish!
It may not sound much for WedJ but I had also made a pudding the night before, a proper British pud. I needed to use a bag of frozen ‘Black Forest fruits’ up, so I made a crumble with those & some chopped eating apples. I par cooked it on Tuesday night, finishing it off in time for dinner on Wednesday. Everything went down well and I merrily cleared up long into the night!



… it was thinking time again… I had half a kilo of ground turkey. My initial thought had been a sort of ragu I do with onions and peppers, but I serve it with rice and we did rice on Tuesday. We would probably also have it later on with leftover chilli. So I pondered… then I came up with a meatloaf type thing. Now I’m not averse to using the occasional tin or packet and Thursday was one of those times. I always keep dried sage and onion stuffing in the cupboard as it’s very handy. If you’ve never had a hot pork sandwich with that stuffing and gravy you’ve never lived! Anyway, I made up a little stuffing with hot water and let it cool. I chopped a leek and sautéed it with garlic and let that cool. With everything cool, I put the turkey, leek, and stuffing into a bowl with salt and pepper. I fried off a morsel to check for seasoning, added a little extra salt to the main mix, then smooshed it into a loaf tin before baking for 45 minutes. I served my latest concoction, which I’m calling ‘Turkey & Stuffing loaf’ with mashed potatoes, petit pois, and gravy made from C’s delicious chicken jus, water and some chicken gravy granules (What?! Gravy granules are handy for a midweek meal!)



… just in case you were starting to think I spend my non-working life cooking, occasionally I let myself off and insist on takeaway. THIS was one of those nights. We don’t have the best selection of takeout food here. It’s good if you like pizza, but I’m not really a fan. One pizza place though does some really good hot chicken wings so I had those with salad and chips. C had a ‘mixed wrap’ which is a mixed kebab but in a tortilla/wrap instead of pitta bread.



… another of my favourite days! Leftover day! Chilli con carne leftovers. This meal needs no embellishment. Just yum, and barely any washing up!

My mad weekly kitchen diary