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

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


… C came back with a large joint of beef. At this time of year we buy a large joint, and then halve it, freezing one half to be roasted for Boxing Day. After portioning it I roasted the rest, and served it with Yorkshire puddings, leek and celery gratin, which I’ve adapted from a celery gratin recipe by using less celery and adding a couple of leeks. We also had mashed potato and gravy.


… Okay. When C bought the beef he didn’t buy much else so this following week was going to be a case of scrabbling for meals. On this day though, we reheated sliced beef, mash and Yorkshires in the microwave and oven respectively, then I steamed some carrots, and stuffed a halved yellow pepper with the remaining leek and celery gratin to bake in the oven. The picture doesn’t show but there was leftover gravy from Sunday too. The meat didn’t look as pink because it was reheated but it was still succulent. Not bad for leftovers!


… take-away! We had fish and chips. Our local chip shop does the best fish and chips in the land I’m sure, and I fancied fish and chips, which is strange for me. We ate our meals straight from the paper, which is the only way. The only concession I make is using a fork, I don’t like eating non-finger food with my fingers! It was delicious. Next time we have it I’ll take a picture.


… I wanted to experiment with toad in the hole. Proper toad in the hole, not toast with egg. I had a plan in my head, that… instead of using run of the mill sausage, I wanted to use the delicious authentic Cumberland sausage we can buy from a butchers and leave it in one length, coiling it down the baking dish. I’m not a sausage fan, but their Cumberland is amazing. So… I put the length of Cumberland in the dish and cooked it for about ten minutes to give it a head start.. Using the batter recipe I like for Yorkshire puddings, I added it when the sausage had cooked for ten minutes and and threw it back in the oven. The toad in the hole wasn’t browning as much as I would like so I checked the oven only to find I had it on the wrong heat. My head causes me to do daft things like that. It wasn’t a major issue, but the batter didn’t puff up as much as it should have done, with the finished toad looking a little anaemic. Regardless though it tasted really, really good, but I should have renamed it ‘snake in the hole’, or ‘snake in the desert’… I served the snake in the desert with onion gravy, and roasted vegetables. I’ll make it again soon and put the oven on the right setting, promise!


… I made a sort of Chinese stir fry using leftover roast beef. It wasn’t perfect because I made it modular in a bid to get a meal on the table whilst battling a migraine. I sliced the meat into thin strips and put it back in the fridge till later, then sliced an onion. I would normally cut the onion into wedges like the Chinese take-away does but this time I just sliced and hard fried it with sliced green pepper, after hard frying quartered mushrooms. I then added oyster sauce, soy sauce, five spice powder and water then took it off the heat for later. When it was time I heated up the mushroom, pepper and onion mix, added a little corn flour slaked in water to thicken, and then added the beef just to warm it through. I served the beef and mushrooms with boiled basmati rice.


… we had another take away… as we’d had fish and chips earlier in the week we tried to keep it healthy with shish and chicken kebabs with salad and pitta.


… C had leftover kebab meat with a basic salad and a spare pitta, oh and some of my volcanic chilli sauce mixed with mayo. I had tinned cassoulet, which considering it’s out of a tin, is delicious!

Roast beef and yorkshire pudding, beef and mushrooms in oyster sauce, toad in the hole with Cumberland sausage.
Roast beef and yorkshire pudding, beef and mushrooms in oyster sauce, toad in the hole with Cumberland sausage.
My mad weekly kitchen diary