Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Day 171: Pear, almond and chocolate crumble


There were at least four other occasions that I went to make Pear, almond and chocolate crumble and they didn’t work out because of one reason or another. Not that there was anything wrong with the recipe – it was just trying to fit in approximately an hour and 15 minutes as the recipe said it would take that long to prepare and cook. Finally, I got round to making it this week and here’s how it went…

I began with the pears. Now, you have to use a right few – 12, in fact so there was quite a lot of peeling. I then had to core and dice them. I didn’t have a shallow 2-litre oven-proof dish like the one shown in the cook book so I used my delf casserole dish instead. I put the diced pears into the dish and covered them with some caster sugar. I then put the dish into the oven for 10 minutes which left me time to get on with the crumble. In a large bowl, I sifted in plain four and cinnamon before adding ground almonds and rubbing in diced chilled butter. It was then time to add in chopped dark chocolate and soft light brown sugar. I then sprinkled the crumble mixture over the pears and put the dish back in the oven for just over 40 minutes. I served it with some double cream.

The verdict…

Dear Husband loved this recipe and awarded it 9 marks out of 10. He said it was “beautiful” and if only I could bottle the aroma. I told him ‘they’ already do – they’re called cinnamon-fragranced air fresheners (!). Anyway, the recipe was a real hit. Dear Sister No.1 loved the recipe too. Dear Son reckoned it was ‘ick’ but couldn’t stop going back over to eat more. Although I’m not too keen on pears but really liked this recipe and gave it a 7.

Overall, I found this recipe very time consuming to make. The recipe said it would take 15 minutes to prepare but I’m not joking that it took me ages to peel, core and dice all the pears – probably nearer to 35 minutes. Although it took 10 minutes to cook and then a further 40 minutes to cook, the recipe didn’t require a lot of monitoring which meant I was free to clean up the incredible mess I’d just made. Will I make it again? Well, I have to say that with a score of 9, I have to! However, this would be a recipe I’d probably only make for winter Sunday lunches and, even at that, probably around Christmas time. Sorry people, I just had to mention the ‘C’ word :)  

Monday, 29 October 2012

Day 170: Thai mussels


In fairness, after work this evening, I did go in search of fresh mussels in two supermarkets north and south of the border but the best I could find were vacuum packed ones. All the fresh ones were sold out. I think the vacuum packed ones I did buy were already cooked too. Essentially, that meant that I didn’t have to do that whole repeated rinsing and scrubbing thing I did the last time I made mussels for this Challenge. I distinctly remembered how much of a task all the rinsing and scrubbing was but, alas, I was prepared for it much better this time round. Yes, all psyched up on a Monday evening for a bit of rinsing and scrubbing but all I had to do was snip the bag of the mussels with a pair of scissors. This time around, you see, I was making Thai mussels and here’s how I made them…

In a large saucepan, I added a can of coconut milk, chopped lemon grass, some nam pla, sliced scallions, soft light brown sugar and two packs of mussels. Once the mixture came up to the boil, I popped the lid on and let it simmer for 5 minutes. I then served with freshly chopped coriander.

The verdict…

Remember what I was saying in Day 169’s post that sometimes it’s good for Dear Husband to get a not-so-nice recipe so that he can appreciate the really good ones?! Well, that doesn’t always work in my favour because now that he knows how delicious the freshly rinsed and scrubbed mussels are, he wasn’t too impressed with the vacuum packed variety. Therefore, this recipe scored a very disappointing 5 marks out of 10; disappointing in that I seriously thought this recipe would get an 8 at least. Just re-read the post for Spanish mussels which was way, way, way long ago back on Day 19 of the Challenge.

Overall, this recipe was easy and quick. If you can’t get lemon grass then, according to Google, the grated zest of a lemon will do. Thankfully though, I actually do find it easy enough to get north of the border. Honestly though, I don’t know what I would do without Google as every day, without fail, I make a mental (sometimes Post-it list) of ten questions I want the answer to and Google obliges. The lemon grass question was no.10 for today. Good old Google.  Will I make this recipe again? No. I’m going to stick to the Spanish mussels thank you very much; you should too.

Day 169: White gazpacho


I’m emigrating!!! Seriously! Actually, no I’m not but I seriously cannot stick this cold weather. I know we’ve only just recently gone back to single digits temperature-wise but I’ve concluded that I need to live in a climate that never goes below 22°C. I’m one of those beings who is generally cold all of the time and, therefore, love my heat. Not too much of course. Over 30 degrees? No, that’s probably too warm. In fact, people generally complain that our house is like a sauna as most days of the year, I have the fire lit in the living room; hail, rain, sleet, snow, even summer when the sun has gone done, I’ll be sure to have the fire lit. The only exception is unless the very odd day that the outside temperature is actually over 22 degrees.

So, just out of curiosity, I Googled to see what country has an average temperature of 22 degrees and guess what I found?! The first search that came up was a group of islands called The Cook Islands on the South Pacific Ocean between Figi and French Polynesia. That, of course, meant absolutely nothing to me. Let’s just say that when I looked at the map, they are in a north-easterly direction from New Zealand. Apparently they have an average temperature of 22-28 degrees. The Cook Islands, eh?! Hmmm, almost sounds like fate (!). Anyway, I could have been doing with one of those warm 22-28 degree-days today as my next recipe White gazpacho was a cold soup and definitely not meant for a winter's day in Ireland. Here’s how I made it…

In a food processor, I whizzed up blanched almonds for 2 minutes, followed by finely grated garlic and two tablespoons of water which I whizzed for a further 2 minutes. Next, I added white bread with the crusts removed, olive oil and almost 250ml of ice-cold water. All of that whizzed for 3 minutes. To finish, I seasoned the mixture and served with a sprinkling of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.

The verdict…

A major no-no from Dear Husband. His words were, and I quote, “Eugh, rotten, eughh. Eughhh!!!”. Zero marks. Yes, zero. Personally, I thought it was hilarious. Ha ha. It does him no harm to get a bad recipe every now and then so that he can appreciate all the really good ones. My verdict? Erm, I really wasn’t fussed on this so I’m going to give it a 3. Maybe on a hot summer’s day, it would taste nicer but I can’t really imagine myself going out of my way to make this one again. I’d probably pick five other recipes before making this one again; therefore, it hasn’t made The List.

Overall, it was an extremely easy and quick recipe to make. The only plus on today’s weather was that the cold water coming out of the tap was actually freezing cold so I didn’t need to use ice to make the water ice-cold which is what the recipe said to use. And to think it’s only October and it’s going to get colder. Brrrrrrrr! Right, I’m off to put some more logs on the fire. I think the temperature is dipping here again. I hope you are all enjoying the remainder of the bank holiday… :)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Wow! My blog has gone over the 25,000 mark!



Wow! My blog has gone over the 25,000 mark - thank you so much to all of you for reading! Lynda :)

Day 168: Smoked salmon and avocado on rye toast


I always thought that when I made this recipe, I’d be making it as a supper. Instead though, I made it as a breakfast (part 2). The recipe was Smoked salmon and avocado on rye toast and it was a delight. Here’s how I made it…

In a bowl, I mixed chopped basil, chopped mint, diced red onion, crème fraiche and diced avocado with salt and pepper. I then toasted slices of rye bread and buttered them. The recipe said to cut up smoked salmon but I actually used wafer thin slices instead. I set two slices each on the rye toast followed by a large spoonful of the creamy avocado mixture and, that was it, breakfast was served.

The verdict…

Dear Husband said it was ‘outstanding’ and awarded the recipe 8 marks out of 10. Yes, well, you know he’s a hard marker. I ate the avocado mixture on buttered toast minus the salmon and, I must say, this was a truly exceptional recipe so I’m going to give it a 9.

One of the many, many great things is that this recipe would be an excellent recipe for breakfast, brunch or supper. For me, this has been one of the highlights of this Challenge for me personally. I probably don’t need to say this but, I will; this recipe is going on The List! Oh, and I’ve just thought that this would be a good breakfast to take to work as long as you have access to a toaster, just keep a box of Tic-Tacs handy – well, there is red onion in the recipe. The avocado mixture could just go into a small Tupperware container until you are ready to eat it.

Overall, this recipe was easy to make, quick, healthy and tasty. It probably gets bonus marks from me as the salmon is a healthy source of protein and contains omega-3 oils whilst the avocado contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fats which, again, are the ones we all need to be eating more of.

If only I’d known before now that this recipe was going to be so good, I wouldn’t have waited until the last 10 days of this Challenge to make it. Further proof that it’s always good to try recipes which you may think will be average but actually turn out to be extremely good.

Day 167: Hot buttered plum pudding


A truly spectacular recipe! I was utterly amazed at how simple yet delicious the Hot buttered plum pudding was. How can such simple ingredients taste so yummy?!! I mean, it was the simplest recipe ever and here’s how I made it…

I took four slices of white bread, removed the crusts and buttered each one generously on one side. I then set them into a rectangular oven-proof dish and spread the remaining butter over the top. Next, I neatly (!) laid out sliced plums on top before scattering them with sugar. Into the oven the dish then went for 30 minutes. I then served with a wee bit of double cream.




The verdict…

Would it be such a surprise to say that both Dear Husband and I scored this recipe a 9?! Yes, it really was that good! I don’t actually eat plums as a fruit which is strange considering that my granny always grew them in her orchard. Apples though, well, they were game for climbing the trees which my sisters, cousins and I all loved doing and thankfully continued to do so for years without breaking any bones, no matter how many times we fell off them! Aw, those were the days…and an orchard is something I never see any more though. Anyway, following this recipe, plums have moved up in my estimation. I'm not trying to make myself out like a food critic here as I know very little really (and it's not my style) but I loved how the sweetness of the plums contrasted with the saltiness of the butter and crispy edges of the bread. Absolutely delicious.

Overall, this recipe was super easy, quick, used little ingredients and tasted absolutely delicious. I was slightly alarmed by the amount of sugar which had to be used (3oz/100g) and I’ve managed to get this far in my life with no cavities and want to stay that way; therefore, I think I could have gotten away with slightly less sugar. As you’ll see from the main photo of the pudding that not all the sugar had sufficiently melted in the centre but I didn’t want to leave the pudding in the oven much longer as some of the fruit had started to burn slightly around the edges.

Will I make this recipe again? Without a doubt and I highly recommend this recipe especially considering the time of year. It really is the perfect dessert recipe for the bank holiday weekend Sunday lunch. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Day 166: Fennel and mango salad


You know it’s winter when you start making stew again. Hmmm, lovely stew. It’s hard to beat coming home on a dark evening to be welcomed by a big, steaming hot bowl on the table. Not forgetting, of course, the Yorkshire Relish on top. Yum. Well, that’s Dear Husband’s life. Mine is that I come home to raw vegetables that have to be peeled, washed, chopped and cooked. Oh but my husband does have the life. So, with Dear Husband’s dinner taken care of with the stew this evening, it meant that I could get on with mine which was Fennel and mango salad and I had nice crusty bread to go with it!

To make the salad, I cubed a fresh mango and added it into a bowl with sliced fennel, chopped mint, olive oil, lemon juice, cubed cheese and seasoning. The recipe said to use feta but I went for mild cheddar instead and then finished off the salad with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

The verdict…

Again, another salad which is surprisingly tasty. I didn’t think I’d be too fussed on this one but I really, really enjoyed it and awarded the recipe 8 marks out of 10. Definitely, another recipe that has made The List! The only way to eat this recipe is to eat a tiny bit of each ingredient with each forkful – so tasty! Despite Dear Husband having eaten a large bowl of stew (with seconds), I couldn’t resist asking him to taste the salad. As if I needed further proof about there-must-be-meat-in-a-salad-for-a-man-to-like-it theory, it was a no from him. I didn’t even ask him for the marks. I really didn’t want to know so as not to spoil how much I was enjoying mine! Yep, definitely. A salad minus meat = a no-no for Dear Husband but a salad minus meat = yes-yes for me!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Day 165: Pear and cinnamon tart


If you’re ever in any doubt as to the power of food styling, then just take a look at the difference between my two photos – one of the total tart and the other of one slice on a nice plate. Not that I am in any way good at food styling, of course. In fact, I think the second photo reinforces how much I’m not good at food styling. I seriously don’t have the talent nor the patience. The recipe was Pear and cinnamon tart and it should have read 10 minutes preparation, 25-30 minutes cooking and lots of patience! Here’s how I made it…

Oh, I forgot to say that I actually went to make it yesterday evening and so I set the puff pastry out to defrost on the kitchen worktop. Except, Dear Husband thought I’d left it there for the three Dear Doggies and proceeded to scrump it up and throw it out to them. I was not a happy camper. To say the least. So this evening’s effort was Task 2.

I trimmed the ready-rolled puff pastry and set it on to a baking tray. I then cored and sliced four pears. In a saucepan, I melted some butter and added in sugar and ground cinnamon before pouring it over the sliced pears. The recipe said to arrange the pears in a single layer on top of the pastry; however, what I actually did was simply tumble the pears on top of the pastry and spread them out with the wooden spoon. I seriously don’t have time to stand arranging about five hundred sliced pears. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating about the five hundred. More like sixty. The tart then cooked in the oven for 25 minutes and I served it with double cream.




The verdict…

Well, despite the fact that my patience making this dessert left a lot to be desired, Dear Husband still scored this recipe full marks. Yes, FULL MARKS!!! A full 10 out of 10. I was amazed! Amazed at him awarding a 10; amazed at how this recipe scored a 10; amazed at how simple yet absolutely delicious this recipe was.

Without doubt, I will make this recipe again. And the further we get into winter, the more inclined I’ll be to make it. The recipe was easy, quick and fantastic and, for those three reasons, I highly recommend you try this one!  

Day 164: Pear and blue cheese salad


Salads, schmalads. Right?! Some people automatically think that just because I’m vegetarian that the only food I eat and love are salads. Wrong. I’m telling you, as someone who loves carbs and need them to fuel a busy lifestyle, a salad just doesn’t cut it for me. If I do have a salad, well, it’s usually only as a starter or a side to another dish like lasagne or with another side of creamed potatoes. Yum. Therefore, when I come across a salad with a difference and one as yummy as Pear and blue cheese salad, then I’m forced to reassess my opinion of them. Here’s how I made it…

I began by making the dressing which consisted of olive oil, cider vinegar, runny honey, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. I mixed it all and then tossed in salad leaves, sliced pears and cubed blue cheese. I finished off the salad by sprinkling roughly chopped pecan nuts and served.

The verdict…

An amazing 8 marks out of 10 from Dear Husband. Whoa! Ok, I must admit to something. Bear with me as I make a generalised statement and it is only my opinion but, one of the many things I’ve learned in doing this Challenge is that, if you’re going to give a man a salad and expect him to actually like it, then there has to be meat in it! Therefore, for Dear Husband’s salad, I topped it with slices of prosciutto ham. Yes, that good old food item which has become a staple in my fridge. He said it was ‘beautiful’ and ‘different’. I whole-heartedly agreed and also awarded it 8 marks out of 10. If you don't like blue cheese though, you could use cheddar I guess.

When will I make this again? Definitely as a starter if I’m having people over for dinner; definitely on a summer’s day; definitely for a lunch. I’d say that this recipe is one of my favourite recipes so far on this Challenge and I can’t wait to make this again!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Day 163: Smoked sausage, bean and root vegetable soup


The countdown is officially on. T minus 14. This time two weeks, I will be sat here trying to adjust to life post-Challenge. It’s been such a big part of my life for the past 6 months but, yesterday, I sat down and took the time to plan out the remainder of the recipes. So, for the next two weeks, each day has been assigned a recipe with the Grand Finale happening on Sunday, 4 November. The Dear Parents have been invited, the Dear Sisters have been invited, the Dear Brothers-in-Law have been invited and the other half of Dear Sister No.3 so that will be dinner for 12 thank you very much – 6 male and 6 female; a healthy divide. My cook book (actually, what’s left of my cook book) has been decorated with my usual pink and green Post-Its and the date written on each one. So, here’s the recipe that had Mon, 21 Oct stuck to it…

To make the Smoked sausage, bean and root vegetable soup, I began by adding olive oil to a large saucepan followed by sliced frankfurter sausages. The recipe said to use cabanossi sausage or any smoked sausage but frankfurter sausages were the only type I could get my hands on. After a minute, I added in diced onion and chopped garlic which I seasoned and let sauté for 5 minutes with the lid on. At that point, I added in vegetable stock along with a bay leaf and two sprigs on thyme. Once it came up to the boil, I then reduced the heat to a simmer and added diced carrot which cooked for 15 minutes. I then added in diced parsnip and potatoes along with cannellini beans which cooked for another 15 minutes. Then, all I had to do was serve up.

The verdict…

Dear Husband reckoned that the soup smelled nicer than it tasted and awarded my efforts 6 marks out of 10. He was really looking forward to the frankfurter sausages (as I'd never cooked them before) but he said they weren’t as nice as he thought they’d be. And I know for a fact that the inclusion of cannellini beans didn’t exactly help things either. Well, we all know what Dear Husband is like about beans and pulses!

Overall, it was an extremely easy recipe to make. Nothing at all was complicated. However, it was a longer recipe to make as it took me the best part of an hour to make. Will I make it again? I think I’ll have to pass because there are numerous other recipes in the cook book which would take precedence over this one.  Therefore, unfortunately, this recipe has failed to make The List. Well, not all 180 recipes could possibly make The List. Until tomorrow folks…

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Day 162: Chocolate and banana tart


Okay, just ignore the ‘well done’ (ok, burnt) parts of the tart in the photo. Despite what it looks like, this recipe was actually very good. When making desserts, there aren’t many wrongs that can’t be righted with Nutella. Yes, something which continues to be a favourite of mine; that perfect combination of hazelnuts and chocolate. Totally yum. One of my earliest food memories is of Dear Father bringing me and Dear Sister No.1 home a jar of Panda chocolate spread. We had such great fun cutting shapes out of the bread and spreading the chocolate over them. Dear Mother wasn’t too impressed I’m sure but that’s daddies all over. Right so, the recipe was Chocolate and banana tart and here’s how I made it…

I trimmed a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry and then set it onto a baking tray. I then spread Nutella on top of it and tried to keep it away from the edges as per the recipe instructions. In a bowl, I mixed four sliced bananas and lemon juice before laying them on top of the Nutella. Before putting the tart into the oven, I sprinkled soft brown sugar over the top and then baked for 22 minutes.

The verdict…

Yes, this tart was extremely nice. Dear Husband’s verdict was 8 marks out of 10 and mine was 7 marks. Dear Son liked it generally but picked off the slice of banana. Dear Daughter was the same. What a mess the two of them were afterwards though. I should have taken a photo!

Overall, it was an extremely easy and quick recipe to make. The only thing I’m wondering is if you’ll manage to get through the recipe without sneaking a big spoonful of the Nutella to yourself. I certainly couldn’t. Some things never change…  

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Day 161: Mixed root remoulade with ham


Remember Saucepan Man from Day 77’s post? Well, Saucepan Man made a comeback today only, this time, he was selling knives. I knew nothing of it until I got home so thankfully Dear Husband managed to get through the transaction without having to offload the encounter to me via the phone. I then arrived home with the two children and food shopping only to see this strange looking metal briefcase on the kitchen table. Honestly, it wouldn’t go amiss on a programme like CSI. There’s nothing more that Dear Husband likes than haggling so of course he had to get a discount. Honestly, I pity some poor unfortunate people that come to our door because they really don’t know what’s ahead of them at times for Dear Husband makes a convincing case no matter what the subject is. He's certainly not a walkover. For example, a few years ago, I landed home on a Saturday from doing the food shopping and Dear Husband was sitting having a cup of tea with this man at the table. Well, it’s nothing strange in Donegal that different people call to someone’s house about this, that or the other and they’re welcomed in for tea but Dear Husband was yapping away and I made them another cup of tea. Sure I didn't know who he was but it doesn't matter - everyone gets invited in for tea in Donegal. It turned out that the man (who Dear Husband had never met until that day) was a Jehovah’s Witness and, as they do, he was obviously trying to get Dear Husband to think about converting. However, the poor man picked the wrong house as Dear Husband spent a good hour trying to convert our guest back to being a Catholic. Honestly. I’m not making this up. There Dear Husband was dealing out the scientific concept of evolution and was in full swing about Adam and Eve being a metaphor and all the rest. It’s no surprise that our guest (who was a lovely man) didn’t come back. Yes, that happened. Anyway so, back to the Challenge and today’s effort which was Mixed root remoulade with ham.

The recipe said to coarsely grate the vegetables but I whipped out the food processor because I just wanted an easy run at this recipe even if it did mean more cleaning up afterwards. So, I grated carrots, parsnips and celeriac before adding them into a bowl which contained mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. I mixed it all together before seasoning it and giving it another mix. I must also admit that I used an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise as I like coleslaw to be that bit creamier. I then took slices of fresh sourdough bread and sun-dried bread (courtesy of Harry’s local food market), toasted them and then spread them with butter. I topped each slice with the coleslaw and then a slice of prosciutto ham. I ate the bread and remoulade but minus the ham, of course.



The verdict…

Dear Husband really liked this recipe so the verdict was 7 marks out of 10. He thought the coleslaw was slightly different to my ‘normal one’ so he picked up on the fact that I’d used different ingredients. It was another first for me as today was the first time I’d ever used celeriac. I must admit that I particularly liked this coleslaw even though I love my original one which simply consists of white cabbage, carrots and mayonnaise.

To conclude, I think this recipe is a great recipe for a Sunday brunch but also a supper any night at all. It was another extremely easy and quick recipe and definitely one to have on your repertoire if you’re fortunate enough to come across beautiful artisan baked bread. Oh but freshly baked bread really is hard to beat and this recipe is already on The List. Somehow, I have a feeling that it’s going to become a regular feature in my kitchen for years to come...

Day 160: Japanese-style salmon tartare


Here’s a question for you…do you have certain bits of cutlery or dishware which you favour more than others? I’m talking, for example, favourite cups, favourite spoons, favourite plates, favourite chopping knives etc.? Well, I do. Dear Husband doesn’t understand it at all but, then again, he doesn’t have to. What I do know is that I can’t be alone on this front and I know for a fact that Dear Mother is the same as me. Indeed, she has a particular long, white-handled knife (which is older than me) which is her favourite. I know she doesn’t feel right if she goes to make the dinner and doesn’t have this particular knife to make it with. I can remember umpteen times of us having to search the place for it for her. Like, how many places could it possibly have been?! It’s a strange knife too because it’s like a cross between a bread knife and a sharp, cutting knife except it's not a super sharp knife. She uses it to cut her scone bread but uses it mainly to peel potatoes and cut other vegetables when cooking. I have even seen her buttering her scone bread with it on occasion. It’s some knife I tell you. They probably don’t make knives like them any more. We now live in an age where most things are designed to be disposed of rather than repaired but it means a lot to many cooking enthusiasts to have good equipment. It really does make a difference. As for cups and plates. Well, they are just cups and plates but, for some reason, there’s something about certain cups and plates which simply add to the enjoyment of the food. Today’s recipe though didn’t require much equipment but it did need a nice plate so here’s how I made Japanese-style salmon tartare.

I began by putting Wasabi, freshly grated ginger and lime juice in a bowl and gave it a mix. I then added diced cucumber and salmon to the bowl and mixed it up. Using a cooking ring, I set it on a side plate and then filled it with the salmon mix. I topped it off with chives and toasted sesame seeds and voila.




The verdict…

Dear Husband scored the recipe a very impressive 8 marks out of 10 and said he'd definitely eat it again as it was very, very nice and something different. That’s as good an indication as any as to its performance.

This was my first time cooking (or rather simply making) sushi in years as I remember that I did attempt something like this before only today’s effort was surprisingly better. Personally, I love sushi – the vegetarian kind, of course; however, it’s really hard to get. For a long time, Marks and Spencers used to sell a lunch-box portion of vegetarian sushi which I absolutely loved. The only problem is that the three M&S stores I go to either side of the border no longer stock it. What I can look forward to though is ordering a massive platter of it through their Christmas online food shopping service in the incoming months. Yum. If you’re having a Christmas get-together and there are vegetarians coming, order this. Highly recommended. Of course, M&S still do the normal sushi and I think it’s really good value for money so I occasionally buy some as an addition to Dear Husband’s lunch box.

Overall, it was an extremely easy and quick recipe to make. Without a doubt, I will make this recipe again so it is safely going on to The List. In my books, this recipe should be awarded bonus points as it uses salmon which is an excellent source of omega oils which are good for the brain and it’s hard to beat a bit of brain food. With life as busy as it is, I think we all need something like this recipe on a regular basis. Have a good weekend folks…

Friday, 19 October 2012

Day 159: Chocolate zabaglione


As a child growing up in the 80s, I remember one particular summer where my cousins and I went through a phase of watching any video (yes, back in the days of video!) that we could get our hands on. Our late uncle (whom I mentioned before) was a TV engineer and was privy to all the American blockbusters. These included Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Short Circuit, Jumping Jack Flash and The Money Pit. We used to go into one of his workshops and sit on TVs, boxes, shelves (!), wherever we could sit and sit in complete darkness while we watched the films. The great thing about this particular workshop was that it had no windows and just one sliding door which blocked out all light so we were as happy as could be. No fancy surround sound cinema or recliner chairs or Blu-ray like so many children have these days (and mine still don't and won't have). Oh crikey, how times have changed. I almost thought there for a moment I was going to use the phrase “back in my day…”. No, not for another few years am I going to start using that one.

Anyway, what got me thinking about that was because of a question that I am being asked on an extremely regular basis lately which is “How long left?”. Well, every time I give my answer, I remind myself of the builder in The Money Pit when I say “two weeks”. Remember how Tom Hanks (who plays Walter) keeps asking him how long it will be until the refurbishment is finished and he keeps saying, week after week, two weeks?! Well, that’s me. I think I have been telling people for the past few weeks that I’ve two weeks left. That’s what I guessed anyway and it was just a guess. Tonight though, I actually counted how long I’ve left and I really do have two weeks left so I’m saying that I will be finished all 180 recipes on the 3rd or 4th of November. The countdown is well and truly on. So, here’s one more that’s getting me nearer to the finish line…Chocolate zabaglione and, yes, I did have to Google the pronunciation!
 
It’s now traditional that I make desserts on a Friday night seeing as Dear Husband is continuing with the CTM theme every Friday night. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the recipe as it said 5 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook. Perfect! I began by pouring some cream into a saucepan and, once it came up to the boil, I took it off the heat and stirred in dark chocolate until it melted. In a separate bowl, I whisked four egg yolks, caster sugar, salt and a small bit of Marsala which I have learned is a dessert white wine. Oh, the lengths I had to go to find that stuff! Once everything was mixed, I then placed the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and used my electric mixer to whisk the egg mixture for about 6 minutes. The recipe said that the mixture would be ready if I could make a figure of eight on the mixture and it would hold the ‘8’ by the time I had finished writing it. I then folded in the melted chocolate mixture and poured into glasses. I finished off my grating some white chocolate on top.

The verdict…

Dear Husband was very impressed with this one and gave it 8 marks out of 10. I passed on this recipe as although I love chocolate, I like bars of the stuff and not chocolate mousse, chocolate pudding or tonight’s chocolate-type offering. The only other comment that Dear Husband made was to say that I actually gave him too much so, if I was making this recipe again (which I will!), I’d make eight smaller portions rather than the four that I made this evening.

Overall, it was an extremely easy recipe to make and, thankfully, although there were egg yolks involved, there were no egg whites so there was little scope for me to go wrong. And that, my friends, is as good a reason as any to put this recipe on The List…

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Day 158: Mushroom and Gruyere tart


Ok, I’m a day behind with the blog posts but, tomorrow, I’m going to get caught up. Promise. I really do need a time machine. One of Dear Husband’s favourite films is Back to the Future and I think he’s convinced that time travel will be possible at some stage (!). I hope he’s right. In the mean time though, I got on with a relatively quick recipe which is exactly what I need every Thursday evening so I settled on Mushroom and Gruyère tart.

I began with the mushrooms. The recipe said to use flat mushrooms but I just used regular mushrooms. I cleaned them, tailed them and then sliced them before putting them in a frying pan to sauté for about 5 minutes. I also added in chopped garlic, thyme leaves and seasoning. Thank heavens too that I remembered to take the puff pastry out of the freezer this morning which meant that it was perfectly defrosted for use when I got home. All I had to do was trim it before putting it on a baking tray. I then scattered Gruyère cheese on top whilst keeping it away from the edges. Once the mushrooms were cooked, I set them on top of the cheese in a single layer. Into the oven the tart then went for 20 minutes. Once ready, I sprinkled some more thyme leaves on the tart and served. For Dear Husband, I added some prosciutto ham on top of his share.

The verdict…

Dear Husband loved this recipe and awarded it full marks!!! Yay! A ten! I thought that the prosciutto helped but he said that, even without the ham, it would still have scored a 9. I really liked this recipe and gave it an 8. Forgive my taste buds but I think they’re not in full working order as last few days. However, I really liked the thyme, cheese and mushroom combination.

Overall, it was an extremely easy and it was relatively quick recipe to make. Being able to buy puff pastry though must be one of the greatest culinary inventions ever! I can’t imagine ever being in a position to be able or inclined to make my own; therefore, without the ready-made stuff, puff pastry wouldn’t get to grace my kitchen. I’m definitely going to make this recipe again which both Dear Husband and I are very happy about. Until tomorrow folks…

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Day 157: Fusilli with fried onions and olives


Dear Husband must have been thinking that he was in the bad books with yet another meat-free dish. It was now the turn of Fusilli with fried onions and olives. The truth is is that I had left a lot of the dessert and vegetarian recipes until last. And, well, if Dear Husband wasn’t in the bad books at the start of this recipe, he was most certainly in them by the end. Here’s how it all went…

I began by pouring olive oil into my large frying pan and, when hot, I added finely sliced onions and seasoned with salt and pepper. I let them cook for almost 20 minutes until they were soft and golden brown. About 10 minutes into cooking the onions, I put on the pasta to cook and I used fusilli pasta. Once the onions were ready, I added in olives, anchovies and rosemary. Knowing that Dear Husband isn’t keen on olives, I couldn’t avoid them especially when the recipe had the word olives in the title; therefore, I thought I’d pull a fast one and get my mini-chopper to work. I thought I’d chop the olives into oblivion and hope that he didn’t notice (if only!). Once the pasta was ready, I drained it and then tipped it into the onion mixture and stirred. I served it up with a grinding of black pepper.

The verdict…

Hmmm, where do I begin? I’m not exactly proficient in typing out the eugh-ing and yuck-ing noises that emerged from Dear Husband’s mouth but at least it was semi-comical. I just wasn’t in the humour for him not liking the dinner this evening as it had been an extremely busy day and I have the worst head cold ever and the last thing I wanted was to make yet another dinner to replace the one that he didn’t like! I just can’t admit defeat at times and must make something 'nice'. Always. Right so, the verdict was…wait for it… zero marks. Yes, no marks…nada…zilch. Whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t exactly my greatest culinary moment. Thankfully for me though, the fact that it had anchovies in it meant that I was able to steer well clear of it. Yes, and Dear Husband went on to say that it ‘tasted like seaweed’ and reminded him of a time many years ago when he went camping with his friends, then caught their own fish and almost gave themselves food-poisoning from eating their under-cooked catch. But I do have to hand it to Dear Husband, he tells it like it is. Most of the time, that's what I rely on. Just not this evening. Thankfully though, he wouldn’t hear tell of me starting into another dinner but did say he wouldn’t mind beans and toast. Alleluia!

Overall, it was an extremely easy recipe and an extremely quick recipe but I won’t be making this one again! On the positive side though, at least I know that, at times, I can be as bad a cook as Dear Husband is…

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Day 156: Baked mushroom risotto


Despite the fact that tonight’s recipe was another vegetarian dish, porcini mushrooms were part of the ingredients. Why was that detail important? Well, the recipe did say that the inclusion of porcini mushrooms would result in an ‘almost beefy aroma’. I interpreted that as ‘an almost beefy taste’; therefore, increasing the chances of Dear Husband liking this recipe. I knew I was on to a winner. Or so I thought. Here’s how I made the Baked mushroom risotto

I began with the porcini mushrooms by putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. I then left them for 20 minutes to soak. Next, using my large casserole dish, I melted butter in it before adding finely chopped onions and garlic. I let them sauté for about 8 minutes. In a saucepan, I added vegetable stock and, once it came up to the boil, I let it simmer. While the onions were cooking, I drained the porcini mushrooms but kept the leftover liquid they were in to remove any grit. I then added that liquid to the vegetable stock and seasoned it. Then it was time to add the chopped porcini mushrooms to the onions and let them cook for about 2 minutes. Next, I tipped in the risotto rice and fried for 2 minutes before pouring in wine. I let it evaporate which took about 2 minutes and then poured the stock in on top. Once it came up to the boil, I popped the lid on the dish and put it in the oven. Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, I melted some more butter and then fried a mixture of flat mushrooms and regular mushrooms. Once golden, I set them aside. After 12 minutes, I took the risotto out of the oven and added grated parmesan cheese and the remainder of the butter and then beat it until everything was melted. To finish, I added freshly chopped parsley and lemon juice. The recipe said to include mascarpone as optional but I didn’t bother.

The verdict…

I was majorly disappointed with this one. And you know that if I was majorly disappointed with this vegetarian dish then there was no way that the verdict was going to be any better from Dear Husband. Except it did. For the first time in the history of this Challenge and, indeed, the entire history of me cooking for him, he scored a vegetarian dish higher than what I did. Dear Husband’s verdict was 7 marks out of 10 and my score was 5 marks out of 10. I just wasn't fussed on it.

Overall, this recipe was a lot of effort but I knew that before I started because it said that it was going to take an hour to get on the table. Of course, an hour in the recipe means that it will take me longer and longer it did take; probably closer to 1.5 hours. Also, there were quite a lot of ingredients and a lot of things going on at once so I had to keep reading and re-reading the recipe to make sure that I did everything in the right order. Will I make this recipe again? Despite the 7 marks, I’d have to say no. There are numerous other recipes in the book that I’d make again before this one so, believe it or not, I’m going to pass on this one. Yes, a real turn-up for the (cook) books…
 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Day 155: Quick red pepper and pesto focaccia and Instant dips


Ok, when I make vegetarian dishes, they have to come with a warning; that is, of course, if there are guests in the house; not that Dear Sister No.1 and the brother-in-law are guests but you know what I mean. So, normally, I don’t tell Dear Husband that the dish is vegetarian and hope that he doesn’t notice (as if!) but I did do well with the risotto a while back. Remember how he said it tasted lovely and ‘chickeny’?! Well, there was no chance of that happening this evening as there was absolutely no scope for pretending there was any kind of meat in today’s recipes. I actually made two and they were Quick red pepper and pesto focaccia and Instant dips.

For the Quick red pepper and pesto focaccia, I prepared a Swiss roll tin by brushing it with olive oil. In a large bowl, I sifted in (well actually, Dear Son did) plain flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. I then made a well in the centre and added buttermilk, chopped preserved peppers and a tablespoon of pesto. Making a claw with my hand, I brought the dough together and then lifted it out onto a floured surface and shaped it so that it would fit into the tin. I then sprinkled some sea salt on top but forgot to drizzle more olive oil on top before putting it in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the bread was cooking, I made the three Instant dips which consisted of Bean dip, Red pepper and chickpea dip and Sun-dried tomato dip and here’s what I did…

For the Bean dip, I used my food processor to whiz a can of cannellini beans, a clove of garlic, chopped rosemary leaves, olive oil and salt and black pepper together. For the Red pepper and chickpea dip, I whizzed a tin of chickpeas, preserved red peppers, olive oil and salt and pepper together. Finally, for the Sun-dried tomato dip, I whizzed up a jar of cherry sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and salt and pepper.

To serve up, I poured each dip into separate bowls and, for the focaccia, I drizzled it with olive oil and then sliced it.
The focaccia

The focaccia and instant dips

 
The verdict…

It’s safe to say that we all loved the focaccia. I was very proud of myself as I really think it was the first time that I made my own bread. I had always held it in my mind as being too complicated and I’d probably mess it up. Thankfully though, this one turned out fine. Overall, the scores were as follows: Dear Sister No.1 – 8 marks out of 10; Dear Brother-in-Law No.1 (he now needs a number seeing as I now have a second brother-in-law as of 15 September) – 5 marks; Dear Husband – 4 marks; me – 8 marks. Yes, I agreed totally with my sister. I really loved these recipes. So, even though, the recipes didn’t score highly with either of the meat-loving men, it scored very well with the girls. Even Baby Daughter ate the bread but it was a no from Dear Son.

Overall, I was really impressed with these recipes and despite the boys not being fans, these two recipes are going on The List. They are definitely ones for the girls. I think they are perfect for Sunday brunch. The recipes might be good as a starter too but, honestly, I know I would eat too much bread and dips and spoil my main course. Everything was easy to make and although there were quite a few ingredients and combinations to get through, it was all definitely worth it. It was also nice to just put everything out on the table and everyone could grab what they wanted. The Bean dip was the least favourite of everyone’s and the Sun-dried tomato dip was the favourite. Yes, bread – I love it and, now that I can make my own, I am on one rung of the bread-making ladder and that’s not a bad place to be…  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Day 154: Lemon posset


I seriously think I’m onto something about the Saturday food shopping. I definitely think the supermarkets could go a step further and not only deliver the shopping to your door but come on in and put the shopping away for me too. Yeah, that’s definitely the way to go. Yes, they can come in to my kitchen and while I’m busy doing one of the many household chores that are synonymous with the weekend, they can busy themselves unpacking the food and putting it away. Wait. Hang on. How are they going to know where everything goes? Ah, I’m going to have to show them. It’s all very simple. Isn't it?! Any dry food items/tinned stuff goes on the pantry shelves; most of the vegetables go into Fridge No.2; the everyday items go in Fridge No.1; the ice-cream doesn’t go into either fridge freezer in the kitchen, it goes in the smaller chest freezer in the utility room; the biscuits go into the press high up in the kitchen but anything special needs to be hidden in my many hiding places in the kitchen – right so, I’ll have to tell them where the secret hiding places are; the planted herbs go into the utility but don’t forget to water them; going back to the vegetables that have to go into the fridge, I’m going to have to show them exactly the way I pack my fridge so that nothing gets squished and the food that goes out of date the quickest is put to the front and not forgotten about. Awwww, you know what?! Forget about it. I’ll just keep doing it myself. There goes that idea…  

Anyway, getting back to the Challenge, I mentioned last night that I had started on one dessert and then abandoned it because the recipe (once made) was going to take hours to chill?! Yes, well, it was Lemon posset. Do you ever take on a task because it will save you time only to find that if you had stuck to your original plan, you actually would have saved time?! It’s like when I’m stuck in heavy traffic in an unknown area, I suddenly decide I’m going to ‘take a shortcut’ because I’d rather be driving than sitting still only to get lost and arrive at my destination four phone calls later and a lot of u-turns. And yes, I am the sort of person who does get lost even with a Sat Nav. Well, I got a bit lost on my Challenge last night and the Lemon posset was going to get me back on track – 2 minutes preparation; 5 minutes cooling. Perfect! What could go wrong?! Well, the fact that I didn’t fully read the recipe initially. In one way though, it was a blessing as I had most of this recipe made last night and just had a few things to do finish it off for the post-Saturday night dinner. Here’s how I made it…

In a saucepan, I added double cream and caster sugar. I put it on a medium heat and stirred it to dissolve all the sugar until it came up to the boil. I then let it simmer for 5 minutes before removing it from the heat and set it aside for 15 minutes. It was then time to add in freshly squeezed lemon juice. I gave it all a stir and then poured the mixture into four glasses. The desserts then went into the fridge overnight and, after tonight’s dinner, I added whipped cream on top and served with some of the Shortbread biscuits which I made last night and two nice cups of Barry’s tea. Aw, doesn't my wee plate from Interior Dreams look lovely?! :)

The verdict…

A very impressive 7 marks out of 10 from Dear Husband. I gave the dessert 5 marks as it wouldn’t be a dessert I’d go out of my way to order if I was out for dinner. Give me cake any day. However, the way I ate mine was to take a shortbread biscuit and add a spoonful of the lemon posset and cream on top. I think that if you’re big into puddings, you’ll really enjoy this dessert. If, like me, you’re not, you will probably pass on this recipe. I also found that serving smaller portions is probably better than the larger four portions which I made. Will I make it again? Yes but only because Dear Husband liked it so much. It’s just not for me.

Overall, it was an extremely easy and simple recipe to make. The longest part is the chilling part so, if you make this recipe, I highly recommend you make it the day before you need it. It’s probably a dessert that would be excellent for a dinner party to get away from serving your usual desserts. That said, if I was making this for when friends come around for dinner, I would have another dessert on the menu too. Speaking of cake, I’m definitely beginning to look forward to digging into Rachel’s new cook book Cake and seeing which of those recipes are my favourites…

Friday, 12 October 2012

Day 153: Chocolate mascarpone mousse


With it being a Friday and Dear Husband now in the habit of having Chicken tika masala at the start of each weekend, I needed a dessert recipe for tonight’s offering. I actually started on one recipe and was mid-way through making it when I realised that it needed to chill for a few hours. Therefore, I abandoned that idea and decided to use that recipe for Saturday night and choose another one instead. Recipe no.2 then became Chocolate mascarpone mousse.

I began by melting dark chocolate in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water. Once ready, I took the bowl off the heat and added two eggs, two tablespoons of brandy and caster sugar. Using an electric whisk, I mixed the lot for 5 minutes exactly. I then added in mascarpone and whisked it briefly until it had all come together. It was then time to serve up and I also made Shortbread biscuits.

The verdict…

Dear Husband was very impressed and…wait for it…awarded the recipe 10 marks out of 10. Seriously. It’s unprecedented that I receive top marks in such quick succession so now I also know that in addition to him being starving with hunger, throwing chocolate into a recipe also helps gets the all elusive 10. The only thing he said that the portion size was probably a bit too much and I would agree. I couldn’t eat that amount of chocolate mousse either but, then again, I’m not a fan of mouse. Therefore, if you make this recipe, serve small portions of it instead.

Overall, it was a super easy and quick recipe to make. It’s definitely going on The List and I think Dear Husband is already looking forward to another portion tomorrow…

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Day 152: Ginger squares with lime frosting


It was a case of now you see them, now you don’t. As if by magic, my Ginger squares with lime frosting disappeared. You see, last week, one of my groups of students got wind of my Challenge and were very eager to know when I was going to bake them something; therefore, I decided I’d try this recipe out on them. Well, one of my friends and colleagues did say that I needed to broaden my testers although she probably was volunteering her services rather than the students’ but here’s how I made the squares…

In a food processor, I added plain flour, softened butter, black treacle, eggs, baking powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and milk. I whizzed the lot for about a minute before pouring it onto a prepared baking tray which I had lined with parchment paper. I smoothed out the mixture and then popped it into the oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, I made the lime frosting which instructed me to whiz up cream cheese and caster sugar along with the zest and juice of a lime. However, I misread the recipe and used icing sugar instead of caster sugar because I honestly thought that was what I had to use. Once the ginger mixture was ready, I carefully tipped it out onto a wire rack and removed the parchment paper to let it cool. Once it was cool enough, I spread the icing mixture on top.

The verdict…

In all the excitement of the class getting the ginger squares, I actually forgot to take a photo of them so that’s why I said it was a case of now you see them, now you don’t. However, I did save myself one and put it in the fridge of my office so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow again to take a photo seeing as I didn’t even get the time to enjoy it this afternoon. However, the overall rating was 9 marks out of 10 which I was very pleased with. There was only one student who wasn’t too fussed on the icing part as he thought it was extremely sweet. Personally, I thought these squares were extremely nice and something different. I made the recipe last night so Dear Husband got his fair share – two large squares, in fact and he loved them. He also scored them a very impressive 9 marks.

Overall, the recipe was extremely easy to make – just remember to add caster sugar as opposed to icing sugar unlike me. I will most certainly make this recipe again and will use the correct frosting next time to see the difference. So, onto The List this recipe goes and I definitely think this is one that you should try yourself…

Day 151: Beetroot gazpacho


I never expected a recipe from the cook book to give me such a laugh as much as the Beetroot gazpacho did; If only I had captured Dear Husband’s reaction as a video then you too could have shared in the entertainment! Unfortunately, you’ll just have to bear with my attempts to describe it. I think I can only liken his reaction to that if I had gone out to the nearest shuck and lifted a bowl of its contents (rubbish and all) and served it to him. For those of you unfamiliar with what a shuck is, it’s a small stream which runs alongside a road. Aw, but his face was priceless! I’d never heard of gazpacho until this Challenge which, according to the cook book, is a cold soup which is commonly consumed in Spain, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Well, now that you know Dear Husband’s reaction, I better tell you what was in this concoction…

In a processor, I added the following vegetables – cherry tomatoes, garlic, a red pepper, scallions and raw beetroot before whizzing them for 3 minutes. I then squished the mixture through a sieve into a bowl until there was nothing but pulp left. I then stirred in olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper. No need to cook, I simply served it up with fresh bread.

The verdict…

I’m not joking when I tell you that Dear Husband’s verdict was (and I quote!)…"Minus a thousand! Eugh!!!". That gave me such a laugh. There I was sat at the kitchen table with my back to Dear Husband as he stood at the kitchen counter full of enthusiasm for yet another new recipe. I couldn’t help but laugh into myself in anticipation of his reaction. Not that my reaction was much better. Like a lot of people, I go through phases of juicing vegetables and this concoction reminded me very much of one of them. However, I most definitely would probably make ten other ‘soups’ before making this one. I might not need to state this but I will anyway – I will most certainly not be making this recipe again. I did score it two marks though – one for the fact that there was no cooking involved and another mark for using lots of fresh vegetables. However, it’s a recipe that just isn’t for us but, if you want to make a recipe that will give you a laugh at the reactions of your nearest and dearest, then this is most certainly a recipe that has to be made for entertainment purposes alone…

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Day 150: Cinnamon baked apples


Well, when it comes to desserts, there probably isn’t a dessert that shouts autumn and dark winter nights better than Cinnamon baked apples. I can't say I have done a whole lot of baking fruit in the past but here's how this attempt went...

I cut the top of each apple about 1cm down from the top and then cored each one before setting them into a muffin tray. In a bowl, I added chopped dried apricots and chopped pecan nuts along with some brown sugar and cinnamon. I gave it all a mix and then stuffed and topped each apple with the fruit and nut mixture. Into the oven the apples went for an hour. When ready, I served them with freshly whipped cream.

The verdict…


Dear Husband said it was something different and awarded my efforts with 6 marks out of 10. I also thought the recipe was worth a 6. I loved the crunchy nuts in contrast to the cinnamon and sweetness of the baked fruit. Of course, a huge dollop of fresh cream only added to the experience!
 
Overall, it was an easy recipe to prepare but it took quite a bit of time to bake. However, I probably will make this recipe again but will probably hold out until Christmas as I loved the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house. In fact, that’s probably the only time I don’t mind the smell of food going through the house. And, if nothing else, the recipe served as a good reminder that Christmas is on its way...


 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Day 149: Chicken stir-fry


I’ve come to the realisation that Dear Husband tends to score recipes higher when he is absolutely starving; not that I am suggesting for one minute that I should go out of my way to deprive him of food for any length of time. However, it just so happened that he was late home from work last night and it had been some time since he ate last. We’ve all had days where you’re so busy that having to eat seems to put us under more pressure but I am of the firm belief that you cannot look after others if you don’t look after yourself; therefore, going lengthy periods of time without food is definitely not a good idea. Right, so I had planned to make a Chicken stir-fry for tonight anyway which was going to be quick (!) so here’s how it went…

The recipe said it served four but I just halved all the quantities seeing as only Dear Husband was going to be eating it. Firstly, I sliced a breast of chicken into strips and then put it into a bowl to marinate with soy sauce, wine and sesame oil. The recipe said to use Mirin i.e. Chinese rice wine but I couldn’t get any anywhere nut did manage to find a condiment in Sainsbury’s which is used for cooking Chinese. I figured that it probably was something like Mirin except to get around alcohol-laws, they called it something else just so that they didn’t have to sell it in the off-licence part of the supermarket and can put it on the shelf where it really should be with the other Chinese cooking items. So I just used that instead but my friend Google says that white wine and sugar is a good substitute also. Anyway, in a hot wok, I added rapeseed oil followed by grated ginger and garlic which fried for about 30 seconds. I then added in mushrooms and a diced orange pepper. They fried for about 5 minutes at which point I added in the chicken – liquid and all. That all cooked for about 5 minutes before adding sliced savoy cabbage and toasted and chopped cashew nuts. After a minute or so, I turned off the heat and tumbled in sliced scallions and another teaspoon of soy sauce. I dished up and served the stir-fry with boiled rice.

The verdict…

Dear Husband was exceptionally delighted with this recipe and, wait for it…gave it 10 marks out of 10!!! I repeat – 10 marks out of 10!!! Woo-hoo! It’s not every day that occurs! He then continued to ramble on… “The nicest stir fry I’ve ever had. In fact, one of the nicest dinners you’ve ever made me! Lovely. Nom nom nom”. You know anyway that the ‘nom nom nom’ bit was him still mid-way as he chomped through the food. Normally, he refuses to give any indication of feedback until he has eaten every single bite but not this evening.

Overall, there were quite a few ingredients but it was all relatively easy to make. It definitely took me closer to half an hour to prepare though. I quite enjoyed making it too. With a score like tonight’s, not only has this recipe made The List but it’s going away up to the top of it! I’m telling you though, absence (of food) definitely makes the taste buds grow fonder…