Monday, July 24, 2006

The cost of cleaning a conservatory roof...

My conservatory roof sorely needed cleaning and the best way to do that is to climb on top with hot soapy water and a brush. As I’m not exactly small (!) I offered to trade a meal if a friend would do it for me. David is pretty small and he and Cat duly turned up at 4pm. We got straight on with the job in hand as I had prepared most of the food already – and it was hardly arduous…. Once finished the girls jumped in the tub:

All recipes are for four averagely hungry people. Total cooking time was probably 15 mins for the lot with preparation of maybe 15 mins. Good food ‘aint neccesarily difficult and time consuming!

Before we move on, a couple of comments. Firstly, you will note that I am not good at giving quantities. This results from being a chef – like any profession you get to know these things instinctively. I will make an effort to start weighing things but if I slip up, feel free to ask! Also, I will assume that some staples you have in your cupboard already – chilli sauce for instance.

Creamy devilled black pudding
Two black puddings (the ones here are the size and shape of a large kidney)
Diced pancetta (or bacon – I buy the Asda SmartPrice bacon bits, cut each pack in 3 and freeze)
Small piece of salami or chorizo (diced small)
Small pot single cream

Pan fry the bacon (I use a wok for most of these things), add the black pudding and fry for a few moments (not too long or it will go to mush) and add a little chilli sauce according to taste. The idea is to give it a touch of heat, not burn your mouth!) then lower the gas to minimum and pour in the cream. Heat gently for a few moments but not too long or the cream will separate, and throw in the salami before plating up.
Total cost of ingredients: £1.70

Basil chicken with tagliatelli
Two chicken breasts
Large onion finely sliced
100g sliced mushrooms*
2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Cut the chicken into strips and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, 2 teaspoons of basil oil, some marjoram, some dried basil and a little salt/pepper. Mix together and let stand – an hour is enough. Heat wok and put in a drop of basil oil then sauté the onions. Add the chicken and when it’s cooked, add the mushrooms. Adjust seasoning. Meanwhile cook the pasta a dente and drain, add a glug of basil oil and then the chicken mix. Mix together and serve with some fresh parmesan and a piece of ciabatta.
Total cost of ingredients: £3.00

* Use button mushrooms by all means. But if you can put up with the less attractive appearance, those big field mushrooms give a much better taste!

Yogurty Aniseedy Strawberries!
250g strawberries sliced
150g natural yogurt (Asda SmartPrice!)
Maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoon pastis (or pernod)

Add tablespoon of syrup or honey and pastis to yogurt and stir together. Chuck in strawberries and mix together. Put in freezer for 90 minutes, stirring half way through. the aim is for it not to freeze solid but o get very cold and yummy!
Total cost of ingredients: £1.60

The last dish was especially good and knocked together on a whim.

All washed down with a nice bottle of rose. Then some more of that white Bordeaux. Then 30 year old cognac (just a taste you understand) Then red wine….. I’m sure you get the picture and if I find whoever it was who was hitting my head from the inside at 4am this morning they are in trouble!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

First, Take One Onion.....

Hello world!

Firstly, a word about the title of this blog. They were words uttered by my daughter Leanne (always a faddy eater) in a fit of pique when presented with yet another of my fabulous creations. "You are incapable of cooking without using onions!" she wailed. "As far as you are concerned any recipe starts with the words 'First, Take One Onion' Agggghhhhhh."

You know what? I don't think she is wrong!

Who am I? My name is Steve and I'm 51 years of age. I live with Carol (you REALLY think I am going to tell you her age?!) in a little place called Brierfield at the foot of Pendle Hill 'twixt Burnley and Nelson in Lancashire. Kids have struck out on their own now and are happily married. Leanne (23) to Lee and Matt (26) to Nicola. Matt was responsible for the two rogues you will hear much about - CJ who is almost 8 and Jack who is 3 (Grandkids are fun - get some!)

I am the Major Bids Manager for a large IT company nowadays. But in the past I have done varied things - deep breath:

I have found over the last few years that my interest in cooking has mushroomed (come on, keep with the program!) and Carol has to fight to get near the kitchen - and she is no mean cook herself. We both like to eat good food and I am basically tight so cooking a wonderful meal for very little money is my Valhalla! (All said tongue-in-cheek of course!)

We both have pretty wide tastes and like to experiment in addition to enjoying basics like egg 'n chips! Tonight we had:

Homemade spicy salmon and crab cakes served on a crispy roll garnished with a little mayonaise and ketchup, served with homemade potato wedges in their skins cooked with a very small amount of Herb de Provence oil and a sprinkling of garlic salt. Washed down with a nicely chilled white bordeaux.

That is a fairly normal meal for us - why eat ready prepared stuff that is expensive and sometimes crap when you can eat something homemade that is just as quick to prepare but less expensive and most times better!

Our motto is to try stuff. Sometimes it is a disaster - that is what bins and then takeaways are for!

Finally, why suddenly start this blog? Well, I came across - sorta like a Secret Santa for people who like food! I'd like to join in but suspect that one of the qualifying criteria will be to have my own food blog. So here I am! I live a very busy life (in fact, my days are shorter than most peoples, Honest!) But I will try and keep this up.

"Eat, Drink and be Merry Gentlemen. For tomorrow we die!"

Happy Eating!

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