29 March 2011

A Lunch so Sudden even I was surprised!

I would imagine that I am the only person to have had this specific combination for lunch in Newcastle, or perhaps the World, today!  It made pleasant eating, however, so no complaints.

~  Menu  ~

Leftover Senegalese-ish Groundnut Stew Sauce
Fried Aubergine Slices
Toast
Glass of Red Wine

Today’s lunch was so sudden it even surprised me.   Just as the bacon & egg stottie cakes were being served for my menfolk and I was thinking of bread and cheese for myself I looked in the fridge and had an idea.  I discovered a small amount of leftover groundnut stew type stuff which I may, or may not, explain about in a few weeks time if I remember.  I also had half a very lovely shiny aubi leftover from a curry I made yesterday and, of course, I always have the potential for toast.  It all worked well together – the sauce is made from peanuts, tomatoes and chili, so just my sort of thing, and went well with the fried aubergine.



I drank a small amount of red wine with it because we are on the road again tomorrow and I feel we shouldn't really travel about with too many half empty bottles in the car.

This evening we are having Steak and Red Wine Casserole so that I can freeze the leftovers to add to my F-i-L’s collection.  The recipe is dead simple and always delicious.

Dead Simple Steak & Red Wine Casserole

1 kg diced braising steak
Flour
Salt & Pepper
4 tbsp or so olive oil
4 medium onions – coarsely chopped
4 beef Oxos or similar
Quite a lot of red wine

~   Toss the steak in enough flour, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.
~   Heat the oil in a large, deep pan and cook the steak a few pieces at a time (if the pan is crowded the steak will stew in its own juice rather than fry and brown), stirring about a bit till the meat is brown.
~   As each batch of meat browns lift it out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
~   Add the onions to the pan together with a little more oil if necessary and cook, stirring frequently, till it starts to soften and has touches of brown.
~   Return all the meat to the pan and pour over enough red wine to come almost to the top of the meat.
~   Crumble in 4 beef Oxos, stir in and bring to a boil.
~   Turn down the heat, cover tightly and simmer for ages – maybe 3-4 hours till the meat is fall apart tender. 

If the gravy is too runny take out all the meat and boil the gravy down to your required consistency, if too thick add a little water. 
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28 March 2011

How to make Lovely Rich Creamy and Easy Alfredo Sauce

~  Menu  ~

Spicy Chicken Goo on Toast
White Wine
A few Squares of Lindt Chilli Choc

Last night, as behooves a good daughter-in-law (even just a common law one like me) I cooked a full on roast chicken dinner with homemade stuffing and my own luxurious version of traditional Bread Sauce.  I fed my chaps well and, not being much of a trencherwoman, had just a modicum of chicken with salad for my dinner

We often buy a bloomin’ huge chicken at Tesco for ₤6 and make all sorts of things out of it.  The day after the roast and after I have removed all the leftover good solid meat from the carcass and set it aside (to use a culinary term) I put the remnants in a large pot and add some cold water but, here’s the thing; not a lot - maybe an inch or so.  I bring the water and chicken to a boil, cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook gently for 15-20 minutes turning the chicken once.  This makes all the rest of the meat fall off the bone without overcooking it and also flavours the stock quite strongly as there isn’t much of it.

Today I have been dealing with the remains of our roast thus …

~   Chicken sandwiches for lunch for the men
~   Chicken Goo on Toast for me
~   Chicken broth leading on to …
~   Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo

Whilst I was separating and sorting the chicken I had quite a few small scrappy pieces of meat which I could easily have added to the soup or the Alfredo but I decided to make myself a delicious well deserved lunch, hence the goo mentioned above.  Simply finely chopped chicken mixed with mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce and coarsely chopped spring onions, spread on toast and bunged under the grill. 

chicken-mayonnaise


So - not much of a recipe there but perhaps a useful idea. 

To make up for being so slack here is my recipe for Alfredo Sauce which is quick and easy, rich and delicious on pasta just as it is or excellent with leftover cooked chicken and perhaps some sautéed mushrooms stirred in too. 

Easy Alfredo Sauce

This very quick and very easy recipe makes a truly luscious sauce which can be the basis of many a yummy pasta dish and a lot of other dishes too, in fact it really qualifies as one of my genius recipes!   

200ml double cream
15g butter
50g freshly grated Parmesan plus more for sprinkling
salt and pepper to taste - I myself, personally, would be heavy on the pepper

~   Gently heat the butter and the cream together, stirring, till the butter has melted into the cream.
~   Add the 50g  of shredded Parmesan and stir in till melted.
~   Slowly bring to a gentle boil, immediately turn down the heat and simmer, still stirring quite a lot but only for a minute or so, maybe less, till you have a smooth creamy sauce.  

alfredo-sauce-recipe-suzy-bowler

This quantity makes enough to coat 225g (raw weight) pasta which is enough for 2 people and is completely delicious with no further additions other than a sprinkling of a little more Parmesan.


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27 March 2011

Found a Leftover, I have.

~  Menu  ~

Salmon, Chilli & Sweet Potato Cakes
Rasta Salad
White Wine Spritzer

I didn’t expect to have a leftover so soon after getting back home but, sorting out my Father in Law’s freezer preparatory to re-stocking, I found a piece of Tesco’s Roast Salmon Fillet with Sweet Chili which I must have put in there before we left in Jan.  Calloo callay, especially because I also just bought some sweet potatoes which are a new obsession.  Lunch was obvious.

Salmon, Chilli & Sweet Potato Cakes

100g Roasted Salmon with Sweet Chilli Dip 
OR 
100g cooked salmon plus a little Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 sweet potato - approx 200g

~    Peel and dice the sweet potato, cover with cold water, add the salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes till tender.
~    Drain and cool to room temperature.
~    Break up the salmon, add to the sweet potato together with Sweet Chilli Sauce, if using, and munge the lot together.
~   Taste and season, form into cakes, coat in seasoned flour and shallow fry till hot and crisp and golden on both sides.



I served my fish cakes with a bright (both taste-wise and colour-wise) little salad of fresh pineapple, red pepper, cucumber, green onions, lettuce and a squeeze of lime juice – all a bit Rastafarian and a reminder of Tortola (as if I need one!)





I had this delicious lunch with a white wine spritzer but what I wanted, what I really, really wanted was a Virgin (or perhaps not!) Colada, just like the one in this picture, which my friend Lynne made me a few days ago.  I don't know how to make it but perhaps Lynnie will be kind enough to add a comment with the recipe (please!).




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25 March 2011

Haggis, Chips and Curry!

Well I’m back in the UK and a bit “jet lagged” or knackered to use a more technical term.  But the weather is really good for late March, flip flops and t-shirt weather, and the place is full of blossom and daffodils and stuff so it’s not all bad. 

We are spending a few days with my Real Man’s similarly real man father and have just had seriously excellent fish and chips for lunch.  Generally speaking Up Northians do fish and chips wonderfully well and Gills at Seton Sluice is one of our favourite fish and chips shops out of many good ones; lovely sweet fleshed haddock, super crispy light dry batter, mushy peas and good chunky real potato chips.  


The menu, however, did make me grin a bit offering such choices as …

2 Pineapple Rings, Chips and Gravy

or

Haggis, Chips and Curry

!

Talk about fusion.  Maybe, of course, these combinations are great but I’m too tired to experiment at the moment – not sure if the pineapple rings are battered and fried or au naturel.

Mushy peas, sometimes known as sloppy peas, are ever so much nicer than they sound – just dried marrowfat peas soaked overnight (or possibly during the day) in copious cold water together with a little bic of sod, drained and then simmered in just enough fresh water to cover (topping up as necessary) till breaking down and soft and, in fact, mushy.  Add a knob of butter and season to taste.

These days a lot of chefs and cookbooks give a completely different twist on mushy peas using a combination of fresh or frozen peas, spring onions, fresh mint, butter and double cream cooked together and puréed with a few whole peas held back and stirred in at the end.  I am positive this is absolutely delicious and will be trying it soon but, to me, this is not the also delicious traditional dish.

In other news I have bought a copy of April’s Vegetarian Living to look at my article "10 Tasty Tear ‘n’ Share Loaves” and am all excited about getting down to writing again asap – loads of ideas!

So that’s about it – a short post just to say I’m back and as soon as I have created some leftovers I shall start using them up and letting you know about it!
  
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21 March 2011

Elephant in the Room and other stories.

We are packing up the boat for another year – one more sleep aboard, one at our friend’s house and then the long slog back to the UK

The last week has been a bit frantic socially as I suddenly realised how short time is and how many people I haven’t seen much or even, in a few cases, at all!  I have visited three lots of friends in three fabulous houses in as many days, all of which make a girl who spends a lot of her life in a small touring caravan a bit miffed.

Firstly Turtle Crawl, the inspired and wonderful home mentioned in my last blog.  A lot of outdoorseyness, softly shaped adobe type walls, quirky and breezy and gorgeous with great views AND an outside pizza oven with accompanying kitchen!!!



Next the house of my good friend Kathy which is in a wonderful spot overlooking Guano Island, quiet and private, a lovely comfortable home furnished with her grandmother’s antiques.  Upstairs they are building a large and airy apartment with a jealous-making kitchen and great views.


Not quite finished yet!


Thirdly we spent a few hours at the house of friends, overlooking Brewer’s Bay, and this house features my Favourite Room in the Whole Wide World - see how one whole wall opens up onto loveliness?   (Oh and there’s an elephant in the room - it's an elephant*.)


…and probably the best infinity pool ever.


*  Fans of QI on British telly will understand this feeble joke.

Sigh …

Howsoever that may be I have enjoyed every minute and eaten well to boot.

Kathy made a great lunch of shrimp salad, cheeses, dips, crackers etc. and a delicious cream cheese, garlic, parmesan, spring onion concoction which went fabulously with a cranberry/chipotle dip.  We drank wine and nibbled whilst playing Rummikub. We did out best but were unable to eat everything and she gave us some to take home. 

That evening I had intended to teach me old mate Clarky how to cook scallops.  I had a cunning plan of serving the scallops folded into (note the evocative chef talk there) a light lemony pasta dish - comme ça ...

Linguine in Lemon & Herb Butter Sauce

A handful of coarsely chopped fresh herbs of your choice – probably parsley, basil etc.
2 thinly sliced spring onions
a little crushed garlic
a little olive oil
finely grated zest and juice of half a juicy lemon
knob of butter
Enough linguine to serve 2

~   Cook the linguini in boiling salted water to al dente, drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and toss the cooked pasta with the herbs.
~   Gently cook the garlic in a little olive oil till fragrant.
~   Add the reserved pasta water to the garlicky oil, simmer, turn of the heat and stir in the butter, lemon zest and juice.
~   Toss together with the herbs and pasta, taste and season.

Serve as it is as a light lunch, as a side dish or add scallops, shrimp etc. to make a main meal.

He, however, wanted an un-cunning easy peasy thing he could do when he got home from work of an evening so I used some of the leftovers.  I sautéed the man’s scallops, set them aside, added bought in pasta sauce and  some of Kathy’s great cream cheese mixture and stirred them together over low heat to form a thick sauce.  I was going to serve them for dinner with linguini and some crunchy garlicky crumbs but we were so full he just froze it for later.  I told him he can just use cream cheese or cream instead of Kathy’s great goo.



Luckily it is what passes for a cold day here; grey and windy and therefore not quite so sad to leave.  My next blog will probably be from the UK and more down to earth!





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17 March 2011

We’ve got new neighbours – and they’re coloured!

Just had a lovely girly lunch at my friend Sharon’s house – tomato, cucumber and cheese salad with gorgeous fresh basil, hot rolls, a spicy bean soup and a many fruits fruit salad with a tad of Cointreau in it, then coffee.  Her house, which her partner Mike made all his own clever self, is wonderful – perfect for a hot climate, full of character and interest.

I was even more than normally grateful to be fed so well because I haven’t cooked much in the past couple of days, the reason being we ran out of gas and as we are a couple of miles from the gas purveyors and have no car we just ate bread and, you know, tinned tuna till we could borrow one.

So instead of a foodie post here are just some pics of Tortola to make you jealous and me “homesick” once I get back to Cornwall (which I also really like, by the way!)

So firstly, our new neighbours …



They have taken up residence on the salt pond near us and we are delighted – lovely pink colour.


Next a few pics of the Trellis Bay area which, among other things, is the home of Aragorn’s Studio.  He is the talented guy who makes the lovely fireballs.


And lots of other stuff too.



And then just a few shots from around the place …




So there you have it. You’ll probably have heard of Follow Friday and Wordless Wednesday and all those sort of things – well today is There’s-not-much-to-say-Thursday!

More foodie talk soon – toodle-pip!













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12 March 2011

A Trip to St. Thomas

~  Menu  ~

Tuna & Sweet Potato Salad in Chilli Lime Mayo
Amstel Light 
(but I really wanted white wine)

My Real Man likes, in these climes, a tuna sarnie for his lunch but, unfortunately, I recently bought a few cans of The Wrong Type; chunky white albacore, I’m afraid.  I am, therefore, trying to use them up like the good girl I am.

Luckily I had the end of a sweet potato in the fridge plus a few fingerlings so I cooked them a couple of hours before lunch (sweet potatoes cook quicker than normal so I added them after the fingerlings had been simmering a few minutes), drained them and immediately tossed them in some mayonnaise flavoured up with a little hot sauce and some grated lime zest and juice.  It is best to dress potatoes salads when warm as they absorb the flavour and fluff up a bit – a lot of people know that!


I’ll be frank with you – I’d have preferred this salad if it had been just sweet potatoes; the fingerlings didn’t seem to be right in it.  For a finishing crunchy touch I sprinkled over the crumbs in the bottom of a packet of Ritz Toasted Chips which I have just discovered and which I hope are available in the UK.  Let me know if you know!



On Thursday last I went to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a girly day out with my friends.  We went to a fabulous place at Havensight called The Barefoot Buddha where I drank a delicious Cubano coffee and ate the vast piece of Cinnamon, Pumpkin, and Enormous Chocolate Chip Cake pictured below.



Lovely place including a shop section full of excellent clothes and jewelry.  If you are in St. Thomas give it a go – I recommend it.

Later in the day my friend Mrs. Gweenie (which is not her name but I call her it anyway – just to confuse her) ate a delicious Feta and all sorts of Mediterranean Stuff Pizza and a fruity, nutty salad for lunch at Calico Jack’s in Charlotte Amalie.


St. Thomas is very different from Tortola, much busier, much more American (which I suppose it would be), not such a small Caribbean community type of place.  It’s great and useful (K-Mart etc.) to visit but I’m glad we spend our time in the BVI.  Some of waterfront Charlotte Amalie is pretty, however, and easy to see its Danish history in the narrow lanes and architecture.



Oh, and the ferry ride over's good too. 




Message from the Future!

Please don’t forget to download your free copy of “219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find useful” which is available in all formats – see here – and includes a link for another free book “Easy Ways to Pimp your Food”.


Two for the Price of None!
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9 March 2011

Coffee Infused "Toast"

~  Menu  ~

Cheese & Grapes & Crackers
Spicy Hot V8

Sometimes it is hard to find a crust to eat on this boat!



Breakfast went fine due a sudden epiphany I had whilst making my Real Man’s porridge.  At first I had thought to have Nothing for breakfast when suddenly, staring vacantly at some cold leftover coffee I thought “French Toast?”  I tried three versions so, really, lunch wasn’t too much of a problem, after all.  They were …

  1. I made normal French Toast substituting the coffee for the milk and cream in the original recipe.  Conclusion – I forgot to add sugar!!
  2. I did the same again with sugar.                                                                                                 Conclusion – better but not very coffee-ish.  (As a quasi bonus, making this second batch, I also found myself with a small coffee omelette having poured the dregs of the soaking mixture into the pan).
  3. Without much faith, to try and up the coffee flavour, I tried just soaking the bread in neat sweetened coffee (no egg) and the result was yummy – soft in the middle but crisp round the edges.
Coffee Infused Toast

Cool leftover but delicious coffee
Sugar to taste
A few drips of pure vanilla essence
Sliced bread – stale if you like
Butter
Chocolate

~   Stir together the sugar, coffee and vanilla till the sugar has dissolved.
~   Soak the bread in the coffee a few minutes, turning to coat completely.  Don’t leave in the coffee too long or it will fall apart.
~   Melt a little butter and fry the bread till crisp, at least around the edges, on both sides.
~   Drain on kitchen paper.
~   Grate chocolate over and serve – preferably with more coffee, only fresh and hot this time.



Some ideas I have had but not tried yet but it won’t be long till I do …

  •                     Drizzle with chocolate sauce instead of the grated chocolate.
  •                     Make a chocolate sandwich and soak in coffee before frying.
  •                     Add rum or similar to the coffee.
  •                     All of the above at the same time.
Walk and plodge  as good as ever (have I mentioned how Utterly Fabulous the weather is just now.  I think it’s the sort of weather they have in heaven).  The beach was, of course, lovely ...


… as were some of its inhabitants …





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7 March 2011

An Après Plodge T'ing

~  Menu  ~

“Castillian” Omelette
Spicy Hot V8

This morning we went for a walk and a bit of a plodge along the beach.  The weather is Perfect; hot and sunny but breezy with just a hint of coolness in the air.  It was high tide so at places we had to plodge which is Geordie for paddle.



Je Plodge - as the French have it!

After the walk we had a Ting at the Mongoose, which may surprise you if you are not familiar with Trellis Bay.  Ting is a refreshing, sparkling grapefruit juice drink from Jamaica.  (T’ing is the West Indian pronunciation of thing and, FYI - to coin an abbreviation - a Good T’ing is generally considered to be a cocktail of Vodka and Ting.)  The Mongoose or, more correctly, De Loose Mongoose is our nearby beach bar - hammock, cold beer, nachos kind of place, informal and easy going, home from home, that sort of thing.




After the plodge and the Ting our thoughts naturally turned to lunch.  At first I was flummoxed – we had so little food on the boat but then I thought of omelettes.  A bacon and cheddar one for him, and for me …

Caramelised Onion, Fingerling Potato & Cheddar Omelette

This is otherwise known, in my mind, as Castillian Omelette – maybe because it tastes a bit Spanish Omelettey – and is one of my favourites.  

Per person …

½ onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
a medium sized potato (or 5 fingerlings which is all I had available) – thinly sliced
s & p
3 eggs
a little mature Cheddar – grated

~   Toss the onion in the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat, top with a piece of parchment of foil directly on top of the onions, covering completely.  Add the pan lid and cook slowly, stirring occasionally till almost tender.
~   When this stage is reached add a little water, just a tbsp max (and a few grains of veg Oxo if you fancy it), lay the sliced potatoes over the onions, replace the foil and the lid and continue cooking till the onions are starting to caramelise and the potatoes are tender.
~   Make a 3 egg omelette as you usually do!
~   When the egg is almost set top with the cooked onions & potatoes, season (I like to add a few chilli flakes but couldn’t as I don’t seem to have any) and sprinkle with grated cheddar.
~   Fold the omelette in half and sit a couple of minutes for the cheese to melt.



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4 March 2011

Sudden Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

~  Menu  ~

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash
Amstel Light

At first I was a bit discombobulated lunch-wise today but luckily I found a bit of cold sweet potato lurking in the cool box and I was sorted.

I was already cooking bacon (yes, the yummy American kind) and red onions for my darling’s burger (he’s a Real Man) so I cooked a little extra for me.  Then I fried the sweet potato in the bacon fat, mashing it a bit, added the onions and crispy bacon and a little hot sauce.  I was a little dubious about it (see picture - not terribly prepossessing) but in fact it was a fine combination of tastes and textures; soft, chewy, crunchy, sweet, salt, hot, caramelised etc.  Another winner for Suzy Bowler – yay, woohoo and so on and so forth.



The day before yesterday’s lunch menu …

~  Another Menu  ~

Feta, Blackberry & Salty Nut Salad
Raspberry Dressing
Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Soda

Wednesday was hard work (for someone accustomed to laying in the sun reading) but pleasant.  I went to town with a couple of friends, shopping.  The main town (romantically names Road Town) here is not quite the image one has of going to town and the shopping was in any case, food and drink, mainly stocking up my friends quirky bar and eating place; Dove Love.



Dove Love - quirky!

Of course I’m not so feak and weeble that shopping is too much for me but the poor girl has to lug everything up a small hill and a flight of stairs and even with the three of us it took 5 trips. 

Once everything was sorted she fixed us lunch – mixed salad leaves, including spinach and rocket (which is, of course, called arugula here after the American influence), tossed with salted almonds, pecans and macadamias, blackberries and crumbled feta and then a raspberry dressing.  An unlikely but delicious combination and one that I intend using in the autumn when the lanes of Cornwall are overrun with blackberries.   We washed it down with a lovely vodka, cranberry soda and felt reasonably virtuous about the whole meal. 



I’m really going to miss my friends in the B.V.I. (although looking forward to seeing the ones in the UK) – you know who you are.  Still almost 3 weeks to go so no time to get maudlin yet.


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