Monday, 30 December 2013

A Quick Quiche - Using Up Bits-n-Pieces

Tonight I fancied making something different from all the festive food we have been eating.  I also wanted to use up some things in the fridge. I like to start the New Year with a clear fridge.

I had some pastry in the fridge so decided on a quiche.  I always like to prepare all the components and then put them into the pastry and straight into the oven.

I sautee my onions, boil and chop the broccoli, grate the cheese and anything else that needs preparing.

I use a stoneware dish to cook and like to use 8 eggs for this size quiche.

I had a small piece of broccoli in the fridge as well as a small piece of cheddar and a small bit of Long Clawston stilton.  I grated them both.

Then the layering starts.  First the sauteed onions followed by the cooked broccoli.

Next layer I tore up some Parma ham and dropped that on top.

then the Stilton cheese,

I poured the egg mixture on top (I had about 100ml of double cream left over and added about the same amount of milk to the beaten eggs), then topped it all with the grated cheddar cheese. This is the point where I trim around the sides and fold a flap of pastry to give a raised bit of crust.

Into a pre-heated oven about 180-190oC for approximately 40-45 minutes.  I always check the middle with a sharp knife and if it comes out dry then it is done.

Tonight we had the quiche warm with a salad and freshly boiled beetroot but once cooled it also makes a great lunch item.

Mr R and his father thoroughly enjoyed their 'end of year' quiche and both look forward to more tomorrow!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday Soup - Fava Bean and Ham

I like to make a pot of soup on a Sunday afternoon.  This week I used the stock I made from boiling the Christmas gammon I got from Aldi to cook and review.

This gammon has fed us on Christmas Day, cold cuts on Boxing Day, creamy cheese and ham noodles and now a lovely fava bean and ham soup. That's pretty good going for one gammon.

I was given a box of split, dried fava beans in the summer in my Food Blogger Connect goodie bag.  They are from Hodmedod's and the box comes with a mini recipe book and a good description of the beans.

Fava beans are tasty and very good for you and really easy to cook with.  Basically cover with water or stock, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

For this week's soup I started by chopping and sauteeing an onion, two garlic cloves and two sticks of celery.  Instead of using butter or sunflower oil, this time I used some of the goose fat I received from Cooks&Co before Christmas.

Whilst this was getting some colour I put about half of the package of fava beans in another pot and boiled following the instructions on the pack.  When they were cooked I put about 2/3 of the beans in the soup pot and liquidised it all.  I seasoned the soup with black pepper, Tabasco sauce.  I didn't add salt because the gammon was pretty salty in the first place.

I added the last 1/3 of the fava beans to the soup so there is a little texture.


The finished soup - this will keep me and Mr R in lunches for the week - if it lasts that long!!

I didn't receive any payment for writing this post.  I used leftovers from our Christmas gammon and was not required to write this post.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Leftovers - My Favourite!

Well believe it or not that mamoth gammon from Aldi I cooked for Christmas Day is almost at an end.

Tonight I cut most of the remaining meat and set it aside as I made the cheese sauce.

I made my usual roux with the butter and flour, whisking the milk so that the sauce didn't get lumpy.  I used cheddar cheese and stilton blue cheese and added the usual teaspoon of dijon mustard, salt&pepper and a few drops of Tabasco Smoked Chipotle sauce.  Instead of adding more milk to thin out the sauce I used some of the liquid from boiling the gammon and also added some of the celery and carrots . At the last minute I usually add a glug or two of white wine and from this point it will stay at the thickness. 

When the sauce was the thickness I wanted I added the chopped ham.

I had bought some German Christmas noodles at Aldi in the week before Christmas so I made those up in some boiling water and when they were ready, they were drained and the sauce poured over.

Served with a green salad and a yummy dinner all round.  The only thing left is to boil the gammon bones to make a stock and a lentil and ham soup will magically appear!




Planning Food for 2014 from my Allotment

Part of the fun this time of the year is thinking of all the great seeds to buy in readiness to plant indoors in preparation of the time to plant at the allotment!

For Christmas I got some funky seeds and plan to plant them to see what grows. As I am also a writer of a gardening blog the idea of growing my own food is very exciting!

Have you ever seen purple tomatoes? Me neither - this should be fun!

I also got these great looking kits.

Cocktail Garden Kit has everything I need to get started with Mint, Lime Basil, Lemon Balm, Borage and two I have not heard of before; Agastache and Cucamelon!

Funky Veg Kit has Purple Haze Carrots, Yellow Courgettes, Striped Tomato Tigerella, Red Delucious Brussels Sprouts and Brightlughts Swiss Chard.

And finally the Hot Chilli & Sweet Pepper Kit contains Chilli Peach Habanero, Chilli de Cayenne, Chilli Pepper JalapeƱo, Sweet Pepper Corni di Toro Rossi, Sweet Pepper Etiuda and Sweet Pepper California Wonder!

Each kit contains starter growing pots, peat blocks, plant markers and full sowing and growing tips.

The kits are by Plant Theatre and are great gifts for those who love gardening like me.

I will of course document how I get on as the growing season progresses.

The kits and seed packets were Christmas presents and I was not obliged to blog about them!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Hamming it up with Aldi this Christmas!!

I was asked to review a Three Bird Roast from Aldi this year for Christmas and as I had already been asked to review one for another supermarket I thought it would make a good comparison blog post.

However, by the time I got the voucher and managed to get to my local Aldi store they had run out of Three Bird Roasts and said they may possibly get some further stocks in on the 23rd or 24th of December.  I decided that would be cutting it too close and made a snap decision to purchase a gammon instead.

Aldi has a variety of hams and gammons and I picked a non smoked one with a bone.  Looking forward to left overs and soups!

I have a large stock pot but it wasn't really big enough for a 4.8kg gammon leaving quite a bit poking out from the top of the water.  I boiled the water once, drained it then filled it up again this time adding four large carrots sliced, two sticks of celery, two onions sliced and pepper.  I didn't add salt as gammon can sometime be quite salty.

I brought the water to the boil and let the whole pot bubble away for about three hours.  Every hour I turned the meat to make sure it would be evenly cooked through.

After the boiling I put the meat on a roasting tin, took off the outer layer of skin and made a few slashed to help get the glaze into.

I then based it with a heated mix of Barbados molasses, honey and ground chilli flakes.


I heated the oven to 180oF and roasted the meat for another couple of hours, basting it every 30 minutes.  The resulting piece of meat was so tender and sliced really evenly and thinly.

I prepared and cooked the meat on Christmas Eve primarily because of the length of time it would take to cook through (it weighed 4.8kg).

The gammon was tasty and I feel the mixture I coated it with tasted really lovely.  I served the meat on a really large platter with the sliced Three Bird Roast and roasted parsnips and carrots.

We have had sliced gammon and cheese and pickles for Boxing Day tea.

I kept the liquid that I cooked the gamon in which will make a great base for a lentil and ham soup and/or a ham and vegetable soup.

I received the ham from Aldi to cook for Christmas Day but I didn't receive any payment nor was I obliged to write a favourable post.



Let Sainsburys Make Your Christmas Lunch! - Part 1

I was sent a selection of Sainsburys Cranberry and Orange Christmas range to prepare, cook and enjoy with my family for Christmas Dinner.

As part of getting my meal ready for Christmas Day I will be serving Smooth Duck and Orange pate on toast for starters. The toast will be the cranberry and seeded loaf. Main meal is a Sainsbury's three bird roast (turkey, chicken and duck) with all the usual vegetables, cranberry and port sauce, Cranberry and orange stuffing in individual little dishes and followed by Cranberry and orange christmas pudding and a Taste the Difference ice cream for my daughter-in-law who doesn't like the dried fruit in the Christmas Pudding.

Boxing Day will be cold cuts to include a thick piece of Stilton cheese, Taste the Difference ham slices with Valencia orange & Cranberry topping and toasted slices of the Cranberry and Seed loaf.  I almost prefer the Boxing Day cold cuts and salads to the traditional meal the day before!


Come back and see how the food looked on Christmas Day. I have never had a Three Bird Roast before and am really looking forward to it.  It comes frozen and can be cooked straight from the freezer in 2 hours 45 minutes or defrosted it will take 2 hours to cook.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Asda has it all for Christmas!

I was sent a goodies package to point out how Asda has it all for your Christmas.  If you are looking for some last minute items pop into your local Asda.

Some of the items they sent me are:

Breakfast is sorted - coffee and waffles with a Christmas twist.  Look out for their Christmas Tree crumpets too.

Beautiful olive oil for salads and biscuits to go with the cheese both by Leith's School of Food and Wine. And of course Asda have a huge range of cheeses, also hams, pies and pates.  And for that little bit extra an Extra Special Quince Jelly

Mouthwatering mini mince pies, they won't last long!

Something for Grannie, auntie and the teenagers. From their Beauty and Bath section

Fun decorations for the Christmas tree.They cater for every style and taste in home festive decorations.
This is the cutest hot-water bottle I have seen around!
And all departments have their own Asda Expert team for example Head of Meat Quality, Head of Fresh Produce, Master of Wine and many more whose job is to get the very best for you.

There is still time to pop down to your local Asda and pick up all the things you have forgotten and to see the smiles on everyone's face on Christmas Day.

I was sent these items for review. I was not required to blog about them and all opinions are my own.

Mashed potatoes with pizazzzzzz! - Cook&Co

Cook&Co sent me a few jars of their goose fat, the very thing that has revolutionised roast potatoes according to the most celebrated chefs and TV personalities.

From Cook&Co's suggested uses for their goose fat I decided to try it with mashed potatoes!

My mashed spuds are usually smooth, buttery and really comforting so it was a big leap of faith for me to vary perfection.

I boiled the potatoes and drained them then back into the pot and I added a couple of tablespoons at a time of the goose fat.  A little single cream, salt and pepper and whipping turned them into the most delicious, creamy clouds of perfect mashed potatoes!

I won't be going back to my old ways of making mashed potatoes but will always be using Cooks&Co goose fat.

I served the mashed potatoes with the little German sausages from Lidl and an onion gravy.  Mr R was indeed happy with this dinner!

Thanks to Cooks&Co for their goose fat.  I didn't receive payment to write this post and the opinions are my own.