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.

If ever I talk about a dish that you want more info on, let me know and I’ll do my best to elaborate!

So… after an enforced break because I had to do the year end paperwork for the business I’m just pulling some meals I cooked from the last few weeks, hopefully the more interesting ones!

Larger image below
Larger image below


Any day

I have always wanted to make my own paella. I’ve been to Spain a lot, but only eaten proper paella once at a party. It’s difficult to order at a restaurant because you have to order in advance, and it’s for more than one person, but husb never fancied it. I dream of that one time I ate it as I love rice dishes! Anyway… I haven’t got a proper paella pan but I decided to ignore that point and use my super duper pan with ears (two teeny curved handles) instead.

I don’t know what I was searching for this day, whether I was looking at pans, or searching for a recipe, but I came across a paella pan site that had a really interesting recipe with very good instructions so I made plans to make it.

Firstly I blackened my own red peppers under the grill; then put them in a plastic food bag to steam for a while then peeled the charred skin off with my fingers when I could handle it. Some people rinse the pepper under the tap, but that must wash away a lot of flavour.

The recipe is long, so I won’t go into all of the detail because you can see it above, but I’ll mention any important stuff, first of which is… at the time I didn’t have paella rice… so I used carnarolli (risotto) rice.

I also paid particular attention to the ‘sofrito’ which, in all my years of hunting down paella recipes, has been missing, and I think is the key. I used thigh meat, which has much more flavour, and I resisted the urge to stir the paella when instructed not to when creating the ‘socarrat’ (not a rodent that plays football, it’s a crust that forms on the bottom), it felt like a long time, and I didn’t use foil because my pan has a lid.

The finished result was excellent, and I credit the detailed recipe instructions. I’m dying to cook the recipe again, and now I have paella rice too!



C wanted a pie on a Friday, and I like to do a curry on a Friday, so I thought I would make a lamb keema pie, a proper pie with a top and a bottom in a bid to accommodate the two thoughts. I made the keema using my special spice mix, and made sure I split the oil at each stage then when ready I cooled it; then filled the lined pie dish, adding a lid when it was full. When it was time I just shoved it in the oven for about forty minutes. I served it which Bombay mashed potatoes, and mushroom pea curry.

The pie was very tasty, but it was too dense, it was absolutely packed full of the keema, I needed to make more of a gravy, next time he can just have his English pie!


One day

Last week at some point I made Cumberland sausage toad in the hole. Now… don’t believe everything you read about toad in the hole, there’s not bread or fried eggs involved. Toad in the hole is sausages in batter!

Most people will buy bog standard sausages for this dish, but we believe it deserves award winning Cumberland sausage, so that’s what we used. If you’re unfamiliar with authentic Cumberland sausage, it doesn’t come in links, it’s just one long sausage that the butcher will weigh, cut, and then coil so we don’t need a really long bag and a lorry to get it home!

Anyway… I used a 5, 5, 8 ratio to make the batter. This was new to me and mixes metric and imperial. So (I think) it was 5 eggs, 500g flour and 8floz milk. She mixed metric and imperial so it would be easy to remember, but I can’t remember if the 8 is milk or flour, so that worked, didn’t it! Anyway… I made the batter beforehand, and added a little grain mustard for a bit of zing. Nearer the time I cut the sausage into large pieces, put them in a baking dish with a little sunflower oil, and roasted them for about fifteen minutes until the top of the sausages were starting to brown and the dish was very hot. I then whipped it out of the oven and poured in the batter as quickly as possible before shoving it back in the oven. It took about half an hour to cook, and was well risen and golden when I pulled it out.

I served the toad in the hole with vegetables and onion gravy. The batter was quite heavy, next time I’ll replace some of the milk in the batter with water, if I follow the 5,5,8 again.

Chicken, choizo, & roasted red pepper paella, lamb keema pie, Cumberland sausage toad in the hole.
Chicken, chorizo, & roasted red pepper paella, lamb keema pie, Cumberland sausage toad in the hole.


My mad weekly kitchen diary

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.

Larger image below
Larger image below


… I did an online shop (which often yields bizarre results)  during the week and lamb had been on offer. I’d specified a 2kg joint and had many exciting plans to use the leftovers. When the shopping arrived the joint was not even a kilo so by the time you take out the bone there wasn’t going to be any creative leftover thinking! Anyway, forget about the leftovers; we have to get through Sunday dinner first. I just seasoned the lamb and stuck it in the oven to roast, for less than an hour. I also had the chance to buy ingredients for my favourite sides, sweet potato and zucchini. They both have to be prepared a certain way for them to go with the lamb in my opinion so I followed my own rules. I par boiled discs of sliced sweet potato and then layered them into a baking dish with a spritz of olive oil, seasoning, and dried rosemary (I prefer dried in this dish). With the zucchini I cut them into about twelve if they are normal sized, then just toss them in olive oil, seasoning, and one clove of crushed garlic per zucchini. Both dishes just go into the oven with about forty five minutes to go. New potatoes were on offer so I just steamed them. I served the lamb with gravy made from the juices and mint sauce from a jar made up with a little extra fresh mint and red wine vinegar.


… I threw (literally) together rice stick noodles, bean sprouts, large prawns, spring onions, green chilli, oyster sauce and soy sauce. It took about fifteen minutes and was delicious!


… I had barely any lamb leftover so I brought out an old favourite… Lentil and (essence of) lamb curry. I made a stock with the bone and used that as liquid in the curry for extra flavour. I had neither the time nor inclination to make the curry from scratch so I popped black mustard seeds, added onion and chilli and fried, then added my favourite medium curry powder and fried that off for five minutes before adding lentils, tinned tomatoes and the liquid. Towards the end I added the rest of the chopped lamb, cooking for just a while longer. I served the curry with basmati rice.


… WedJ wasn’t visiting so I had leftover lentil and essence of lamb curry, and C had leftover Chinese. An easy cooking day for me!


… I’d bought really good chicken burgers on a whim so I cooked those, added lettuce, onion and mayo to a toasted bun and we had oven fries, both the curly and straight variety. I can’t remember the last time I had a chicken burger but I won’t leave it so long next time.


… It was curry again. I’d previously decided I was going to make a dish from two Indian cookery books I’d acquired so with the online shop I’d bought pork for ‘Amma’s pork curry with green chillies and tamarind’ from ‘Rick Stein’s India’. I hadn’t planned on the essence of lamb curry earlier in the week so we were in danger of curry overload!

Anyway… My first problem was buying a shoulder joint instead of steaks or something, I had to chop up the joint and it wasn’t easy! The next was misremembering a stage in the method. One of the most important things is cooking the onions, or as was in this case, the paste that had been created from onions, chillies, 20 cloves of garlic, and ginger. I had toasted a load of spices and ground them in my new mahoosive pestle and mortar, and then browned the pork in batches. At this point I added the paste and spices and fried them off for only 1 minute, when it should have been at least five. I don’t know what happens to me when I follow a recipe; I seem to lose my instincts. I KNOW that that stage is important and would only be perfectly carried out when the oil starts to split from the paste, but I not only blindly followed the recipe, I blindly followed it incorrectly by adding the water when the paste wasn’t sufficiently cooked. I was SO ANNOYED with myself for making such a fundamental error. Anyway, it was done so from that point I discarded the recipe and cooked the curry for absolutely ages instead of the suggested 30 minutes. Okay I know it was probably very different to the original but it ended up being very edible! Next time though I’ll check the stages, before I move on. I served the curry with basmati rice.


… We had leftover Amma’s curry with a vegetable samosa each to change things up a bit!

Roast lamb, rice noodle & prawn stirfry, lentil & essence of lamb curry, chicken burger, Amma's pork and tamarind curry (almost)
Roast lamb, rice noodle & prawn stirfry, lentil & essence of lamb curry, chicken burger, Amma’s pork and tamarind curry (almost)
My mad weekly kitchen diary