Category Archives: English

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb

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For our special New Year’s Eve meal this year, we decided upon lamb.  The original aim was leg of lamb but upon a disappointing shopping trip on 30th, we opted for lamb shoulder due to availability.  One word of caution; pretty expensive!

I scoured the internet for recipes when we got back and found this one:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2564743/Mary-Berry-Cooks-Slow-roast-shoulder-lamb-rosemary-paprika-rub-fresh-mint-sauce.html

Mary Berry is better known for her baking but as I’m a big fan of hers, I was keen to give a savoury recipe a go.

First I made the mint sauce earlier in the day.  Very straightforward; just mixing the honey, white wine vinegar and chopped mint together in a bowl and storing in a bowl for later.  A really good mint taste was achieved and controlling the amount of sugar in the sauce was great also (compared to shop bought sauce).

I got the lamb out of the fridge about 3 hours before I started cooking it to bring it to room temperature.  Then I made the rosemary and paprika rub (with oil) and spread it over both sides of the lamb shoulder.

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I made 2 pints of chicken stock and added this to the baking tray with one chopped onion before adding a rack above the tray and placing the lamb on it.

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I put it in the oven for 30 mins on 220 degrees to brown it a little (next time I would do this at 200 or 210 because I think it was too high – still getting used to my new oven :-))

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Then I took it out, covered it in foil and put it back in the oven for 3 hours on 140 degrees.

All fairly straightforward so far so my tips for this recipe are be careful with how much stock you use or keep an eye on it at least.  I checked it after about an hour and all the stock had dried up.  Not a big problem; I could make and add more but I was more worried about the state of the burnt baking tray under the lamb (actually it seems fine now!).  Then I think I added too much as we had an excessive amount of gravy!  Again, not a problem, as I love gravy so will be using the leftovers today!

Final tip is just the impracticality of taking out a tray filled with stock from the oven to repeatedly baste.  Even though I now have a beautiful new oven at a normal height in my new kitchen (!), still it seemed a bit precarious so the basting frequency was somewhat reduced from what was recommended in the recipe!  There are plenty of lamb shoulder recipes out there so next time I would be looking for one without stock underneath and where the lamb could sit directly in the roasting tray.

However, after all this cooking, the lamb was amazing!  Very tender, tasty and the gravy was very rich!  I loved the homemade mint sauce also.  I served it all with leek and mushrooms and we polished it off in no time.  We bought a shoulder of 1.5kg and managed to finish it between two people (with seconds of course!).  So either we are very greedy or the recipe that states 2.2kg serving 6-8 people is a little ambitious.  It’s probably a combination of both these things…

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Filed under English, Lamb, Roast, Slow cooking

Chicken and Jerusalem artichoke pie (the, I love you, pie!)

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When I started this blog the first picture I used was that of me and 4 mini pies I had made.  Creations from la cuineta will soon undertake some changes with a house move planned so the time seemed right to bring out a pie once more!

I don’t want to jinx the move and we don’t have the keys yet but if all goes to plan, I will still be cooking from a small kitchen but a better designed one!  Also for that reason, you will see a picture of the very small oven which can lay claim to many of the recipes on here (it’s time it got some credit!).  Apologies for it’s dirty state but as I’m hoping to get a brand new oven, I’m feeling quite lazy to clean it!

The recipe I found was able to utilise the artichokes that I had in my veg box delivery:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chickenandjerusalema_85607

I started with the arduous task of extracting the hearts of the artichokes.  This is really not a favourite task of mine but I think I’m improving at it…

I still used this video here to help me:

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I was also able to utilise one of the giant onions I got in my veg box meaning we now have a little bit more space in the fridge!!!

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Once I’d got the hearts of the artichokes out, I put them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to keep them from oxidating while I chopped the onions, the chicken and could prepare the wine and the chicken stock.

I melted the butter and added the onions and garlic and gently fried for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped artichokes, orange zest and wine.  Once the wine had evaporated slightly I sprinkled over the flour and then gently added the chicken stock to make the sauce.

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I actually found the sauce to be quite thick before before putting a lid on it and cooking for the proposed 10-15 mins, so I reduced this time slightly and then added the cream for the final few minutes on the hob.  See what you think, when you have it all mixed together.

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Once the sauce was done, I moved on to the constructing of the pie.  I had cheated a little and bought ready made puff pastry but after the artichokes, this was a welcome respite 🙂  They make so much mess for what you get out of them and I guess there is some significance of whenever I mention using artichokes to most people they say they just take them from a jar.

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For my left over pastry pieces I decided to write a nice message.  That was easier for me than trying to make a flower and was probably more appreciated too! 🙂

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The height the puff pastry got to in the little over was quite impressive!

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All in all, it came out really well!  I do still love pies!!!  The pastry was nicely crispy and the orange zest made for a different kind of pie.  We both went back for seconds so a good sign that it was a tasty dish.

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I’m hoping to squeeze in another couple of blogs from my existing kitchen but we will see how the next couple of months go and the demands on my time.  I have to say that designing my own kitchen is very exciting and something I will be able to spend many more hours doing!

 

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Filed under Chicken, English, Food, Food blogging, Pie, Pies, Recipes, Uncategorized

Alternative Christmas Dinner! – Scallops with a sabayon sauce and Fish Pie!

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As I stated in my previous post, I cooked for some of my family on Christmas Day what with my mum doing the traditional turkey dinner for all the family on Boxing Day this year 🙂  It’s taken me a while to get this post up as Christmas time at home is pretty hectic and then straight back to Barcelona and work on 30th!

It was nice to choose the recipes for this day; something special that would take a bit more time to cook as I would have the majority of Christmas morning to do it.  It was also very nice to be able to cook for my family on this day and take some of the pressure from my mum during the holiday season (although she just did it all the next day instead, and the next day and the next day!).

I’d cooked the scallops in the sabayon sauce before (from the Little Paris Kitchen book) but this was the first time I’d tried this particular fish pie.

The thought of cooking Christmas Day didn’t daunt me too much but the thought of shopping in a UK supermarket on Christmas Eve did quite a bit!  In reality it was calmer than I thought but things were starting to run out.  We took the last 10 scallops, had to buy frozen prawns and had to used dried dill rather than fresh but apart from that it went very smoothly!  I was also offered a good deal on a carp (presumably with all the fish I was buying I had been identified as a prime candidate to buy) but really didn’t really have a use for that as well!

I started off by defrosting the prawns and then taking the heads and the shells off and putting to one side to use in the sauce of the pie.

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I mixed the prawn shells with milk, butter, onion, bay leaf and pepper corns and simmered for 10 mins.  When it was done I set it to one side to infuse.

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Then I put the fish into a roasting pan, skin side up.  I strained the infused milk into the pan on top of the fish and simmered on the hob for 8 mins.  I left them to cool a little before flaking into a bowl removing the skin and any bones before mixing with the prawns.

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Sneak peaks into the guest kitchen…. (much bigger than mine!!!)

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I melted the butter and added the flour and then gradually the flavoured milk left in the roasting pan.  I whisked while simmering for about 15 mins until thick and added a little salt and pepper.  I added the parsley and poured the sauce over the fish and left to cool a little.

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Meanwhile I’d boiled the potatoes in salted water for 20 mins and soaked a pinch of saffron in a couple of tablespoons of hot water.  I beat in the saffron to the mashed potatoes before adding the butter, milk and dill.

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Now the fish mixture had cooled, I spread the mash on top and baked in the oven for 40 mins on 180 degrees and until the top was brown and crispy.  The saffron gave the mash a really nice colour so will be using this in mash in the future for sure!

While the pie was baking, I started the scallops.  First with the sabayon sauce by putting the egg yolks, wine and sugar and salt into a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  I whisked for 10 mins until thick and foamy.

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I set this aside while I cooked the scallops with a bit of oil.  2 mins on one side and then 3 mins on the other.  I served the scallops in their shells with a bit of rocket on the side and the sabayon sauce dripped over the top.

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So the verdict and the final pictures; the scallops were great as a starter and went down very well with my family 🙂  Very tasty and a very nice mix of flavours!  Quite a pretty plate too 🙂

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And the pie was extremely tasty too!  It’s quite a big investment of time but worth the effort with some nice touches in the recipe including the saffron in the mash and the prawn shell infused milk makes a big different to the taste.

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My family seemed happy so that was the main thing!  Mum said the best Christmas Dinner ever but I’m quite sure she was being nice!  It was good to have something different though and these recipes are a luxurious treat for Christmas 🙂

And now as an extra; a peak into the best Christmas Dinner ever (served on Boxing Day this year).  Traditional turkey dinner by my mum 🙂  Really the best ever and something I look forward to a lot with the pigs in blankets always my favourite!!!  All the family together too so a perfect Boxing Day!

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A belated Merry Christmas to all and hope the New Year has started well 🙂

Ingredients

Scallops with a sabayon sauce – served 5

10 large scallops with shells

Several handfuls of rocket

Olive oil

4 egg yolks

100 ml dry white wine

Pinch of sugar and salt

Fish pie – serves 5 (including seconds!!!)

350g raw shell on prawns (I could only find frozen)

700 ml milk

1 bay leaf

2 peppercorns

450g haddock (or any white fish)

450g smoked haddock (or cod)

75g butter

75g flour

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

For the mash

1.3kg floury potatoes

Large pinch of saffron threads

75g butter

250ml milk

3 tablespoons of fresh dill (if you can get it!)

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Filed under English, Fish, Food, Food blogging, French, Herbs, Pie, Pies, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Blogging 1 year on! – Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, Seafood and cava risotto, Arancini and Stewed plums!

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It is hard to believe but one year has passed already that I’ve been blogging!  On average, I’ve stuck to my one blog a month rule but it is true that I was much more productive in the beginning!  However, to celebrate this one year, try to put this right and make the most of the fact I had friends staying who also love cooking, we managed all of the recipes listed in the title over two meals this weekend!  The cava recipe was chosen especially for the one year celebration 🙂

The starter was Rob’s inspiration following a visit to the local market:

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Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, shallots and red pepper!  When I met Rob he was always quite random with his cooking ingredients, never measuring anything with sometimes amazing results and sometimes not so amazing… I think he will forgive me for mentioning his syrup sponge pudding which was more like a soup (although it still tasted amazing!).  Over the years he has perfected many techniques and is a great cook so now the random recipes are usually great too 😉  which included this one!

I’d never cooked razor clams before and it was quite a new experience as I discovered they were still alive while washing them.  They made some noise and were kind of pulsing a little.  I’ve come a long way with food but still, this gave me the heebie-jeebies!  If in doubt, you can find the definition here:

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/heebie-jeebies

We grilled them (alive! yes we felt kind of bad for some seconds…) for a couple of minutes until the shells opened and then cleaned them again (removing the dark parts) although I have to say thanks to Kristine and Rob for doing this dirty job!  In the meantime we had chopped up about 10 shallots (after soaking them in boiling water to make the skins come off more easily), roasting a red pepper for 20 mins, removing the skin and chopping and also chopping about 100g of chorizo.  We cooked the shallots, red pepper and chorizo in a bit of oil on the hob for about 5 mins before adding the razor clams for a couple more minutes.  Then we put all the ingredients back in the shells to serve.  We used about about 15 razor clams for 4 people.

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The next course was inspired by my blog entries.  In honour of the anniversary, the guest chefs had to choose one (or two as it turned out!) recipes from my blog from the past year.  They chose risotto and arancini but with a slight variation this time in that it was seafood and cava 🙂  Again we took the inspiration from the market and chose razor clams and shelled and unshelled prawns with Kristine being head of ingredient sourcing!  The remaining ingredients were shallots, asparagus, fish stock, rice and butter.

We snapped the asparagus ends off (using about 15 in total).  This was Rob’s tip for knowing how much to remove from the end;  bend them until their natural point of breaking and then all the “bad” part is removed.  We boiled the ends in about a litre of water for about 30 mins with 2 fish stock cubes to make the stock before blending.

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In the meantime we melted a knob of butter and gently fried the chopped shallots (approx. 10) before adding about 300g of rice and one glass of cava.  Once the rice had absorbed the cava, we started to gently add the stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid was soaked up before adding another one.  We added the remaining asparagus and continued this process for about 25 mins.

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We added 8 unshelled prawns and cooked for about 4-5 mins before removing and then adding the shelled prawns (approx. 12) and cooking for 2 mins.  We added a little more butter and ground pepper, mixed well and placed the unshelled prawns on top before serving.

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For the next day we decided to use the leftover risotto for arancini.  We used about a quarter of a baguette to make breadcrumbs and added flour to a plate and one beaten egg to a dish.  We rolled the rice mixture into small balls, rolled in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  We cooked them on an oiled baking tray for 25 mins at 200 degrees.

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The final dish went through various interations due to when we were going to cook it and the remaining time available before their flight home!  So in the end we did stewed plums 🙂  We cut the plums into quarters, removing the stones and added to a pan with 4 tablespoons of water, 6 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  We stewed in the pan (with the lid on) for about 15 mins until the plums were soft.  Fairly easy but delicious!

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I guess this must be my longest blog ever!  Definitely the most recipes at one time which is fitting for the one year anniversary!  I’ve really enjoyed the blogging experience and over this weekend, it’s been really nice to look back at all the recipes I’ve done and hope that I’ve learnt something along the way.  The best part of this though was to celebrate it with friends, friends who share the love of cooking and eating.  A very special occasion and photographic evidence is provided below demonstrating just quite how small this cuineta is!

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Filed under Desserts, English, Fish, Food, Italian, Recipes, Rice, Uncategorized

Chicken, bacon, leek and mushroom pie

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So another month has passed and I think I have done less cooking in this time than in a long time.  I’ve not been home much and I’ve really missed cooking!  So this weekend I did a couple of recipes but one has already been featured on here (Chicken Chow Mein) so my “feature” for this blog is chicken and mushroom pie.  When I built this blog and the about me page, there was definitely a pie theme going on so it was about time a full recipe made it on here!  This also coincides well with the purchase of a new recipe book; Pies, Glorious Pies!

I’ve opted for what I thought was quite an easy recipe but having never really had any problems with making pastry before, today was going to be the day what with me having to put pictures on here!

I made the pastry first by sifting the flour into a bowl and mixing by hand with chilled, chopped butter.  I say sifting but I probably sifted about half before I got bored and tipped the non-sifted part into the bowl.  The recipe book states that you can use a food processor to make the pastry but I prefer to make by hand so I can feel and see the texture well.

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After the mixture resembled bread crumbs, I added the 2 egg yolks and water and mixed until it made a dough.  I then attempted to knead until smooth but I think maybe I did not knead for long enough although the dough did look like a nice shaped ball!

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I wrapped the dough in cling film and left in the fridge for 30 mins.

In the meantime, I chopped the chicken and added this to the pie dish along with the lardons.  I quartered a few mushrooms and added this to the dish with one chopped leek.  I also added salt, pepper and one teaspoon of dried parsley.  It seems I forgot to buy the fresh parsley when I went food shopping yesterday….

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I then poured in the stock/worcestershire sauce mixture over the top before going back to the pastry.

I lightly floured the surface and then started rolling out the pastry with a rolling pin.

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The pastry was cracking quite a bit from the beginning so when I picked it up it fell apart quite easily so there was no way of putting it on top of the pie mixture!  I put the dough back together with a bit more of water and egg and tried again.  It was better this time but still there were a few cracks so not the perfect pie topping I was looking for 😦  These are the best photos I could get…

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I cooked the pie for 1.5 hours on 180 degrees and served it along with some mangetout and carrots.  While it did not look the prettiest pie in the world, the most important part was that it tasted great 🙂  A lot of flavour and for me, a real taste of home!

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Ingredients

Rich shortcrust pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons of ice-cold water

Pie filling

  • 1.5 chicken breasts
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • 1 leek
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons of worcester sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons of chicken stock
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
  • Salt and pepper

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Filed under Chicken, English, Food, Pie, Pies, Recipes, Uncategorized

The swimming chicken!

I actually made this last weekend but it’s been a busy time starting a new job hence the delay in posting!  It is based on Heston Blumental’s perfect chicken recipe and for those who don’t know him; he is a British chef who likes to use the science of food.  So for this roast chicken, I had to undertake a few additional steps to my usual way of cooking!

First thing is to brine the chicken.  That is to soak it in salted water for about 8 hours which has the result of keeping in the moisture when cooking the chicken.  Heston thinks many roast chickens are dry and as they are made up of 80% water, they key is to keep this moisture in.  I’m no scientist so I won’t attempt to explain this in any more detail but google is always on hand!

I did not follow Heston’s recipe exactly but here is the link in case anyone wants to or for a few more basic details of the recipe and ingredients:

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/heston-blumenthal/roast-chicken-recipe

After the brining process, I squirted lemon juice inside the cavity of the chicken (I did not have a lemon in the fridge, nor one ready on my tree!) along with some thyme.  I rubbed the skin with butter and put in the oven for about 2 hours on 100 degrees (the lowest our little oven will go to – remember the name of this blog; la cuineta – the little kitchen, and you can see the little oven below!).

I then rested the chicken outside the oven for about 30 mins and in the meantime par-boiled some roast potatoes and carrots for 10 mins before putting them in the (now empty) roasting tin for 30 mins at about 200 degrees.  I turned the oven up to the highest temperature (250 degrees) and then put the chicken back in along with the potatoes and carrots for about 15 mins.

Finally, I carved and served along with gravy.  I’m afraid I cheated here and made my more traditional gravy using a bit of the juices from the roasting tin along with Bisto granules and some freshly ground pepper.  Maybe next time I attempt the gravy also!

I have to say the result of all this is fantastic!  If I were a scientist maybe I could experiment to see whether the brining or the slow cooking has the greatest effect but I can say, the two combined do produce a really succulent chicken and I would definitely recommend making the extra effort of brining before cooking.  The chicken literally falls apart as you carve and eat and it surely is close to being a perfect roast chicken!

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Filed under Chicken, English, Food, Recipes, Slow cooking

English breakfast

To coincide with my trip home to the UK I thought it could be a good time to showcase a dish close to my heart; the English breakfast!

I’m pretty sure that to other cultures and nationalities this seems quite a heavy dish for breakfast but as an occasional weekend treat, you can’t beat it.

I was fortunate enough to have my mum cook this one so already I have a guest chef in a guest kitchen!

The key ingredients for my perfect breakfast are:

2 sausages
2 pieces of bacon

1 slice of bread, toasted and with butter
1/4 can of baked beans
2-3 tablespoons of sliced mushrooms
1 poached egg
Tomato ketchup to serve

Fruit juice and/or tea

For the quantities, I’ve put what I had on this occasion but feel free to amend to your tastes and appetite!

  

First cook the sausages under the grill on a medium high heat. After 10 mins add the bacon and cook for a further 5 mins, turning as the meat browns.

Fry the mushrooms for 5 mins and break the egg carefully into a saucepan of salted, boiling water and cook for 4 mins (3 mins if at room temperature).  Gently cook the baked beans for 2-3 mins (or until simmering).

                           

As the last step, toast the bread and spread butter generously! Place the buttered toast on a plate and carefully place the egg on top.

  

Then arrange the cooked sausages, bacon, mushrooms and beans around the toast. Serve with tomato ketchup and a cup of tea or glass of juice!

The key to English Breakfast is really the timing of all of the above.  In the final 5 mins it can feel like everything is cooking at the same time so it might be sensible to cook the sausage and bacon first and keep it warm while you focus on the other elements.

Thank you to Sally Jameson for this delicious treat!

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Filed under Breakfast, English, Food, Recipes