Friday, 20 September 2013

What's Cooking In Your Kitchen Tonight?

Apparently there was an article yesterday in a national newspaper (Daily Telegraph I think) about how we, as a nation, eat the same meals at home each week. It's a conversation that seems to pop up quite often and I remember, a few years ago, Jamie Oliver commenting that most people could do their weekly shop with their eyes closed as they buy exactly the same food items week in and week out.
Desite having quite a few diverse culinary skills at work, I hold my hand up to being one of these people! When I look at what we eat at home I can honestly say each week we have at least one mince meal (bolognaise,chilli or cottage pie), one stew, one stir fry,two convenience frozen meals and possibly one takeaway or a meal at the local pub.So tonight I decided to do something different at home!
Getting my wok out, and heating a small amount of olive oil in the bottom, I added some diced chicken fillet and chopped red onion and fried for a few minutes. To this I added some mild curry powder and tons of chopped vegetables from the bottom of the fridge. Baby corn, green beans, courgette,samphire and spinach gave this meal not only a vibrance of colour but a great deal of nutrition. To the wok I then added a 400g tin chopped tomatoes and 1/4pt vegetable stock and left to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cooking the curry
Just before serving I stirred in some coriander leaves (oh how I love coriander!) and then served up with some small roasted potatoes and naan bread.

Chicken & vegetable curry, roast potatoes and naan bread
It was lovely! Even my boys said how much they enjoyed it, although I did spot some courgette left on the side of one of the plates!
The only downside was that the house stank of curry all evening!!!
So what's cooking in your kitchen tonight??

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Mushroom, Pesto & Halloumi Filo Parcels

What do think of if I say the words "Buffet Food" to you?
For most of you I bet the first thing to come in your head was either sandwiches or sausage rolls?
Funny how traditions are passed down through the ages.Sometimes though it's fun to experiment with new ideas and this is just what I did for last weekends buffet at The Old Red Lion, Litchborough.
Simple, but really effective, and certainly tasty, these mushroom, pesto and halloumi parcels went down really well with the guests and could also easily be considered as an ideal starter for a vegetarian dinner guest.
I layered 4 sheets of filo pastry on top of each other, brushing each one with melted butter, and cut into squares for the parcels. Then I fried off some chopped mushrooms and garlic in butter, stirred in a spoon of pesto and added diced halloumi. Into the centre of each pastry square I put some filling, then brushed the 4 sides with beaten egg and gathered all sides together to form a money bag shape.
3-4 minutes in the deep fat fryer at 180C and they were ready.


Preparing the filo parcels

Mushroom, pesto and halloumi filo parcels

Very pleased also with the photos from my new camera! 

Mushroom, pesto & halloumi filo parcels
As for following tradition, well yes we do that too!
Delicious homemade sausage rolls.

Sausage rolls
Olive, cheddar and cherry tomato on cocktail sticks.
Olive, cheddar and cherry tomato
Scotch eggs made from our own eggs and sausage meat from the farm and proper breadcrumbs.
Scotch eggs

Mini tarts too.
Mini quiches and red onion and cream cheese tartlets
So what's your favourite?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Steak & Ale Pie with Bubble & Squeak Topping

If you are a regular reader to my blog you will know that in June The Old Red Lion entered into The Northampton Food & Drink Awards for 2013/2014 in 3 categories. You can read about it here if you missed the feature before.
Well, we were unsuccessful with a couple of our entries but very pleased to announce our Steak & Ale pies with Bubble & Squeak topping have made it through to the final 4 in The Artisan Product Of The Year. How great is that?!
After reaching the final our next stage of judging was to make 6 small individual pies to be judged by a small panel and also 200 tasting samples for a food festival held on September 7th.
We're in the final!

It's not often I make large pies but, in this case, it was the easiest and quickest way to produce 200 samples. So I got to work lining the bases with pastry.
Pie Bases
Whilst preparing the pastry I had the steak and ale mix cooking. This takes a good couple of hours so that the meat melts in your mouth!
Steak and Ale pie mix
Then lots of bubble and squeak topping to prepare.
Bubble & Squeak
Then finally putting it all together and baking in the oven.
Steak and Ale Pies for sampling
The food festival was held in a small local village called Weedon Lois and accompanied Weston and Weedon Horticultural Society's annual produce and flower show.
It was quite interesting to walk around the marquee and see what people had spent their year growing.
Look how big the onions were!!
A selection of produce at The Weston & Weedon Horticultural Show
Very weird looking carrots!
Weird shaped carrot

I personally was fascinated by these miniature gardens. Lots of thought and patience went into creating these.

miniature garden

Miniature garden
After looking round the show, and before leaving, I couldn't help but pop back to the gazebo hosting tastings for the food and drink competitions to see how it was all going.
Samples of steak and ale pie for tasting and judging.
My pie had been dished up for people to try and comment on.
Samples of steak and ale pie for judging
This man was quite happy to give me his point of view. In his opinion the pastry was lovely but the product lacked enough pepper. His comments were taken on board!!
Food tasting at Weedon Lois

So now we wait!
 On October 17th an awards dinner will be held in Northampton for all finalists to attend and the winners announced. Fingers now tightly crossed!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

KitKat, Malteser and Smartie Birthday Cake

It's my sons 16th birthday today so while he went off to play golf I decided to quickly make a birthday cake for tea.
I hear you laugh when I say quickly but honestly it didn't take long and was so simple.
Underneath all that chocolate is a basic chocolate sponge and I just stuck the KitKat fingers on with butter icing then covered the top with the same icing and tipped over the Maltesers and Smarties.
The whole thing took me about an hour and half with cooling time for the sponge included in that time
KitKat, Maltesers & Smarties Birthday Cake