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!

Larger image below
Larger image below

Sunday

Pork is always a good deal so guess what we had… Slow roast pork and crackling. It’s always a crowd (of two) pleaser and relatively low maintenance. Instead of blasting the joint as I used to do for about 30 minutes to try and start the crackling, I just put it in on low, about 150 degrees centigrade with a view to dealing with the crackling later.

To go with the pork I made roast potatoes (proper ones) in the usual way, peel, par boil, rough ‘em up, sprinkle with a little semolina, season and roast until crunchy on the outside, fluffy inside. There is almost nothing better.

Next I made celery gratin, talked about previously here, but instead of my favourite leeks, I used onions. Lastly I steamed carrots, and baked two cored eating apples. I much prefer the apples that way rather than buying Bramley’s cooking apples and adding a ton of sugar.

When the pork was cooked I whipped off the un-crackled top and shoved it under a medium grill, taking care not to let it burn. It’s not an exact science but I chopped bits off as they crisped up, it took about ten minutes. Much less stressful than trying to crackle it on the joint!

I made a cheats gravy, thickening the meat juices with instant chicken granules because I had a lot going on!

Somehow I managed to get everything out once, had a great meal, forgot to take a pic, and we had leftovers… more later!

Monday

I wanted easy, because, you know… Monday, so I found a recipe online for Mediterranean roast potatoes. The ingredients were roasted together, there wasn’t too much prep, so it was ideal. I planned to serve the veg with fish, and with that in mind C came home with frozen salmon fillets. I’ve never really had success cooking frozen fish to serve as is; it always ends up with the white film which makes it look really unattractive. So this time I followed the instructions to the LETTER. I was off to a losing start though, because one fillet was mahoosive and the two I had were teeny. Anyway, I followed the instructions, cooking them from frozen in tin foil with a little lemon and oil, and by the time the middle was warm, the edges were milky, which is not what I wanted, but they tasted fine. The veg worked well and was great for Monday ease. I’ll definitely be doing that again.

Tuesday

Okay… I’d been craving mashed potatoes like you wouldn’t believe, so this was the day that craving would be satiated. And what better way to do it than sausage, mash, and onion gravy. I started early by caramelising sliced onions. I cooked them on low, for hours, whilst working. Nearer the time I took the onions from the pan and gently fried the sausages until brown. I then removed them to a baking dish to finish off in the oven. In the pan I’d cooked the sausages in I added the onions and a couple of dessert spoons of plain flour, stirring that for a while before adding water and a stock cube, I used beef. I just let that simmer until the gravy was thick and the onions were melting.

You all know how do make mash, I happen to use a ricer, and my favourite way of cooking the potatoes is baking them first, then ricing the middles, but I didn’t have time today so I boiled and riced, then added seasoning, milk, and my favourite dairy free spread.

The plump brown sausages paired with the creamy mash, and topped with onion gravy are a match made in heaven. And because we’re grown ups I sautéed savoy cabbage to accompany my craving quasher.

Wednesday

… Our guest was due, and I had leftover pork. Inspired by rice noodles I thought I would test my pad thai-ish on WedJ. I know he will eat almost anything but he’s a good test subject, and gives feedback. Now… I love Chinese roast pork, and although I couldn’t properly replicate it as I was using leftover pork, I thought I would attempt to give it that vibe, so early on in the day I sliced the pork and tossed it in five spice powder and let it sit in the fridge.

I prepped what I could beforehand, including omelette which I just make with egg and light soy, and the liquor for the stir-fry. I think I’ve said this before but the combination of soy, garlic, chilli, fish sauce, and tamarind would make an old shoe taste good! I also defrosted a few cooked and peeled prawns, bashed a handful of peanuts, sliced spring onions, fresh mint and coriander, and also savoy cabbage which I needed to use up.

At dinner time I started by soaking the rice noodles in boiling water. I needed to soak the noodles for 7 minutes, that’s how quick the dish cooks! Next I heated my pan, added a little oil, and then dumped in the spring onions and cabbage, then the pork and the liquor. I stir fried that for a few moments before adding the omelette and the prawns. When the noodles were just soft enough strained them into a colander, then chucked them in with the rest, stirring well. At the end I added the coriander and peanuts, but left the mint because husband doesn’t like it. I served the noodles then sprinkled sesame seeds on all, and mint on mine and WedJ’s meal to be stirred through before eating.

Now… back to the pork. I don’t know what happened… but a combination of the five spice and the liquor really gave more than a ‘Chinese roast pork’ vibe, it was a real feeling. My husband commented as he ate, and I’d not told him I wanted to give that effect. Success!!!

Thursday

… I’ve been messing about with ground turkey, and to that end I decided to make turkey burgers to see if they could come anywhere near a beef burger. The turkey we get from our supermarket is quite course ground, which I like, and I started with that but improvised with the rest. With the turkey in the mixing bowl I noted it seemed wetter than ground beef so I whizzed up white bread until I had breadcrumbs and added that along with an egg. I stuck with good old salt and pepper for the seasoning, but I did add a good sprinkling of chilli flakes, because why wouldn’t you! I took a little of the mixture and fried it off so I could test the seasoning and it was bang on, which was lucky, so I moulded the mixture patties and stuck them in the fridge till needed.

At dinner time I gently fried the burgers, then finished them off in the oven, adding cheddar cheese for the last few minutes. I served the burgers in flat side toasted sesame seed bun with lettuce, onion, and a little mayo. I added ketchup whilst eating, and served the burger with oven fries.

So… as an experiment, I definitely wouldn’t miss the beef, the burger was delicious! Husband enjoyed it, said it ‘was different’ from beef. Well… yeah! 😉

Friday

… I used my magic spice mix and dried methi leaves to make a methi (fenugreek) chicken and potato curry. I usually like to make a separate Bombay aloo but my head was really bad. I used some principles that I’ve been practicing, such as cooking sliced onions until soft then whizzing them up with chilli, garlic, ginger, and a little oil. That mixture is then cooked out until the oil splits away. The spices are added and the process is repeated, at that point I add the chicken, potatoes, methi leaves, salt, and water to cover; then let it simmer away before adding green peppers. The onions being whizzed makes a lovely gravy, and the whole thing is lifted at the end with fresh coriander.

I served the curry with boiled basmati rice to which I added grated raw carrot just before I strained said rice. I love this find, the carrot brings new texture and flavour!

Saturday

… Leftovers! Curry!

Sausage, mash, & Onion Gravy, Pad Thai-ish, turkey burger, methi chicken curry & carrot basmati rice
Sausage, mash, & Onion Gravy, Pad Thai-ish, turkey burger, methi chicken curry & carrot basmati rice
My mad weekly kitchen diary

My mad weekly kitchen diary

This is 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.

If I ever talk about a dish that you want more detail on, please let me know.

Larger image below
Larger image below

Sunday

… We bought pork shoulder because I wanted to experiment. A few weeks back I gave info on pork belly, and I wanted to try replicating the cracking with the shoulder. Mostly in the UK a pork shoulder joint is rolled up and tied, so I wanted to try opening it out to cook it the same way as I did the pork belly. When I untied the joint and opened it out the ‘inside’ wasn’t very well cut. I don’t know if that’s normal or because we use a discount supermarket. Anyway… I cut off the most untidy bits, seasoned it then turned it over to deal with what would be the crackling. The would be crackling was already scored but not very well so I had a go with a disposable Stanley knife type thing that we keep for just this job. Once I’d done that I rubbed in oil, added seasoning, and put it in a low oven, leaving it for about four hours.

Meanwhile I cored two eating apples and baked them, instead of making apple sauce, then made up a little boxed stuffing and made it into stuffing balls by moulding it in my palms. Next I peeled and chopped potatoes and boiled them to make mash. I’d filled the top oven with stuffing and apples so I couldn’t do my preferred baked potato mash. I mashed the potatoes with a little dairy free margarine, skimmed uht milk, and a good sprinkling of garlic granules, which is frankly delicious! I made the other veg easier by doing frozen petits pois, and diced carrot. I started the carrot off first in a pan of boiling water then after about 5 minutes I added the frozen teeny peas.

When I thought the pork was done I pulled it from the oven and placed it under the grill on a medium heat to crisp the crackling. It wasn’t perfect because the meat had curled a little, probably because of the bad cut underneath, but for the most part it worked; we got a good crunchy crispy crackling on most of the skin.

By this point I had had enough of cooking so I made the gravy with granules… 😛

The pork was delicious but I think it should have stayed in the oven a little longer; I was using belly pork timings, not shoulder.

Monday

… I wanted leftover pork to do something with, but the Sunday joint was fattier than we would hope so a lot of it was discarded. With this in mind I brought forward a meal I’d planned for later in the week using rice noodle sticks. Now there’s a little story here… I bought two packs of rice noodle sticks from an online shop some time ago. I’d never bought them before and had only tried pad thai from a food truck once, but I love these noodles. So… I live in a city that likes to think it’s a village, and none of the usual retailers sell rice stick noodles. I was all ready to order a gazillion packets of noodles online when I remembered a little shop near the city centre. It never looks open, the window is not piled high with produce, but it claimed on a sign to sell Asian products so we parked up and walked around to the shop and it was like an Aladdin’s cave of Asian foods. Ta dah!!! We had a good look round and I bought two packs of noodles and a Chinese curry base.

Anyway… I had ground turkey, and wanted to replicate the flavours of pad thai but use the different ingredients so I made a base with fish sauce, tamarind liquid, soy sauce, chilli, garlic, fresh lime, and brown sugar.

I fried off the ground turkey, removed it from the pan and made omelette with two eggs and a little light soy. When dinner time rolled around I soaked the noodles in hot water for ten minutes whilst frying off spring onions, baby corn, and mange tout. I then added the turkey, the noodles, and then the egg, and soy based liquid. When serving I added fresh coriander and a wedge of lime.

Okay. I think anything made with this sort of base is going to taste good!

Tuesday

… For the life of me I can’t remember what we ate. We know it would have been food so we’ll just leave it at that…

Wednesday

… Wednesday guest was here and he and C were doing something DIY related in the kitchen so we had fish and chips.

Thursday

… I made the very modular, and cheap and cheerful peppered smoked mackerel bake. I boiled the peeled and chopped potatoes with chopped onion until tender. Meanwhile I made up a base of a little double cream, fish stock, dill, and horseradish sauce. Next I broke up the smoked mackerel fillets. When everything was ready I mixed it all together and threw it in the oven, so simple! I served the bake with mange tout and baby corn.

Friday

… Sliced pork loin had been on offer and C wanted me to replicate a meal we’d had upon our first arrival together in Spain. Let me tell you…

It was night time when we arrived in Spain and we were picked up at the airport, and transported to what looked like waste land. – It’s okay, we were with family; they weren’t trying to do us in! – We parked up and went through a little wooden arched door in a very large graffiti strewn wall to be greeted by a courtyard filled with flora that would put any gardener to shame, a fountain, and a load of tables. We sat next to lavender and rosemary which threw out their scent because of the warm evening. On one side of the courtyard there was a restaurant, a dance floor, a bowling alley, and a bar. This place was amazing! We didn’t know what they cooked well so our host ordered for us. When the food came it was very simple, very thin pork loin cooked in garlic and olive oil, served on crusty bread with delicious sliced raw Spanish tomatoes. I know the food tasted better because of the surroundings, but it would have been delicious if I had eaten it at the side of the road.

So… I had pork loin and tried bashing it with a meat hammer to make it really thin. It wasn’t as thin as I would have liked but I think there must be a knack, and I don’t have it! I then marinated the pork in olive oil and lots of garlic. At dinner time I warmed French style baguette and flash fried the pork. Instead of leaving the tomato totally raw I added it to the warm oil after I’d cooked the pork and turned it before putting it on the sandwich so it was dressed rather than cooked. I served the (what turned out to be) delicious Spanish pork sandwich with a basic salad.

Saturday

… We had leftover mackerel and potato bake.

Roast pork shoulder, my ground turkey pad thai, peppered mackerel and potato bake, Spanish pork sandwich.
Roast pork shoulder, my ground turkey pad thai, peppered mackerel and potato bake, Spanish pork sandwich.
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

Sunday

… Roast pork! My husband’s friend Ken had brought in a glut of cooking apples so of course I had to do pork and apple sauce. The pork took care of itself pretty much, but I had to take off the uncrackled crackling at some point and roast it on its own to achieve the desired crackle. As a rule I bake an eating apple per person instead of apple sauce because I don’t like the thought of adding sugar, and you have to add sugar to cooking apples. But these were Ken’s apples so I had to use them, and followed a BBC recipe which also adds butter… In for a penny eh?! I served the pork with baked potato mash, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and gravy.

Monday

… We had leftover pork, see above. There was enough of everything to have almost the same meal. I cut the sprouts in half though and sautéed them with a little garlic and chilli.

Tuesday

… Minced lamb was on offer so I used half of a 500g pack to make lahmacun (Turkish pizza), I do have a recipe, but I tried it once and felt the need to tweak it within an inch of its life. This time I just used a recipe for bread machine pizza dough that I like instead of hand kneading the original recipe’s dough every five minutes for what seemed like hours. With the topping I whizzed it in the food processor instead of trying to chop it by hand, and I added fresh coriander and garlic to the lamb, turkish chilli flakes, salt, and lemon juice. After whizzing the lamb to a paste I fried a little off to check the seasoning and it needed a little more salt. When the time came I made two very thin pizza bases and smeared the lamb on before baking it in a hot oven. I served the delicious lahmacun with salad, and there was plenty lahmacun left over to eat cold!

Wednesday

… WedJ was eating with us so I wanted easy and upscale-able! Corned beef hash was the order of the day. Unfortunately I have to use tinned corned beef but until I can make my own we’ve found one we like. So… I peeled and chopped potatoes and steamed them until tender, meanwhile I sautéed onion in a little sunflower oil. A little way in I added crushed garlic to the onions, then the cubed chilled corned beef, Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce (on this day I used chipotle) and seasoning. After stirring through the mostly cooked potatoes I shoved it in the oven to crisp a little on the top. I served the corned beef hash with roasted savoy cabbage, and if you haven’t tried that, you need to! I loosely used this recipe.

Thursday

… take-away! I had Singapore fried rice, C had a chicken curry.

Friday

… good old fashioned meat and potatoes… Well, not quite. The meat was tandoori chicken, and the potatoes were Bombay potatoes. I love making the tandoori chicken, I do cheat a little, but only a little! I could mix the spices myself, but my local Indian foods store sell a lovely tandoori masala so I use that.

In the morning I chopped the chicken breast into large chunks and put it in a bowl that has a lid. Next I added greek yoghurt, minced ginger and garlic, the masala, and the juice of half a lemon. After a good stir I put the lid on and chucked it in the fridge to marinate. After work I started on the potatoes by peeling and chopping the spuds and boiling them until mostly tender. Sometimes I cook them all the way through so the end result has some ‘mash-y’ bits. Whilst the potatoes were cooking I popped some black mustard seeds in a little oil then added chopped onion and sautéed the two for about ten minutes until the onions were soft. I tend to wing it a bit with the potatoes, sometimes I add curry leaves, and often panch phoran instead of just mustard seeds. Anyway, I added salt, turmeric, paprika and a little chilli powder to the onions and then the cooked potatoes, a chopped fresh green chilli and two fresh tomatoes. When combined I shoved it in the oven to finish.

Nearer dinner time I skewered the chicken, and also a couple of peppers to go under the grill. I know it’s not a tandoor but you can achieve char, which is all I’m interested in. I also knocked up a carrot salad. I served the potatoes with a lot of fresh coriander. My version of meat and potatoes is yummy!

Saturday

… We had leftovers! Tandoori chicken, peppers, and Bombay potatoes with cucumber salad.

Note: Only one pic, head’s been a shed! Will try and do better!

Tandoori chicken and Bombay potatoes
Tandoori chicken and Bombay potatoes
My mad weekly kitchen diary