Thursday, 25 April 2013

Venison Stroganoff

I know that I shouldn't, but I really can't help myself.  To save money and to avoid food waste I really ought to stick to my shopping list.  However, I am a slave to bargains and interesting ingredients.  More often or not I end up having to rewrite the weeks meal plan to accommodate items that I have bought which are out of date.  The more exciting finds usually end up in the freezer, saved for a special occasion.  Tonight is one such special occasion.  The visit of the Mother in Law.

I get on well with the Mother in Law, so I will leave all of the traditional jokes to somebody else.  In fact I get on so well with her that I was happy to defrost some venison loin that had leapt off the shelves and into my basket, without consulting my shopping list, a couple of months ago.

Stroganoff was the obvious choice, as we already had sour cream and mushrooms in the fridge that needed using up*.  The meat is fried first then rested while onions are fried in the same pan with a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika.  Sliced mushrooms are added next followed by the cooked venison and the sour cream.  Served with wild rice and some broccoli, special meals don't get much simpler to cook.

*I'm not above using leftovers for my guests.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday Night Take-away - The Cheese Burger

The reality of being a parent really struck home this week.  R woke up last Thursday covered in Chicken Pox and our plans for the week were chucked out of the window.  We have been in self-imposed quarantine ever since.  My planned Birthday meal was cancelled and both Z and I had to re-arrange work as we had to keep him out of nursery.

Every cloud has a silver lining and ours has been more meals as a family.  In a normal week R has his meals at nursery and we eat our tea after R has had his bath and gone to bed.  This week we've been making sure dinner was on the table by the time the worker of the day got home.  We have even given R his first taste of Chinese food with a Chicken and Oyster Sauce stir-fry with noodles.

Tonight though, we are back to normal routine.  I don't finish work until six o'clock on Friday so R had cottage pie before I got home.  Once he was nicely tucked up in bed we cracked on with our take-away style meal of cheese burger and chips.

Even before the horse meat scandal broke we tended to make our burgers from scratch.  I have heard of people adding breadcrumbs, egg and even tomato ketchup to the meat as seasonings or binding agents for their burgers.  All we ever add is finely chopped and fried onion, salt and pepper.  By the time the mince and onions are mixed by hand I find the burgers hold their shape pretty well.  I fried the burgers for a couple of minutes on each side before letting them rest while I got on with some garnishes.

People smother their burgers with all sorts of toppings.  A recent take-away menu that fell through our letter box had fifteen different beefburger options*.  I'm not going to tell you how to top your burger but I went with Jarlsberg, dijon mustard, tomato ketchup and some crunchy gem lettuce leaves.

There is only one thing that I will change the next time I make burgers.  I own, and have never used, a mincer.  I am determined to dust it off and start experimenting with different cuts of meat to make the best burger.  I have even seen ox heart burgers on display in butchers' shops and having recently tried pig heart I'd love to give that a try.

*there was no pulled pork on offer although I'm sure it won't be long before it appears on the standard take-away menus alongside doner kebab meat.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Kedgeree at the end of Easter Weekend

Easter bank holiday weekend 2013 will go down as one of those bank holidays when little is achieved and you feel good about it.  Normally, a bank holiday is the perfect excuse for a food blow-out, plenty of shopping and cooking, but my one plan for the weekend got in the way.  Rather than mooching around markets and food fairs I went to Manchester for a stag do.

The details of the stag will remain the knowledge* of the attendees.  Suffice to say, by the time I got back to Leeds I was starving and probably still a little drunk.  A hot cross bun had been saved for my return but I had longer to wait for the meal of the day.  It's not a Celebration without a roast and we had bought a rolled pork shoulder joint to celebrate Easter.  If you want to read more about cooking pork please feel free to venture over to Everything But The Oink where I am eating every edible part of a pig over the course of the year.

Today I woke up relatively hangover-free and set about the order of the day.  Firstly, meal planning for the week ahead and writing a suitable shopping list, followed by a trip to Temple Newsam.  More specifically a trip to Home Farm to show R the lambs**.  The sun was shining when we set out but the clouds quickly gathered and cut off the little warmth that the sun was providing.

After a couple of cold and enjoyable hours at the farm we decamped back to Leeds for a warming pub lunch.  We found ourselves in The Adelphi.  We'd been to The Adelphi a couple of months ago for Sunday lunch and were so impressed with the food and the service that we were keen to go back.  By the time we arrived a brief twitter conversation had resulted in a reserved table.  It wasn't needed because we had the run of the place when we arrived, but within half an hour the pub was really filling up and we would have struggled to get in.

I ordered bangers and mash and Z chose chicken and leek pie.  We knew that the staff wouldn't bat an eyelid at us letting R share our food which makes life very easy indeed.  R isn't a fussy eater for a two year old, but occasionally he still picks at food that I know he loves.  Not ordering him his own food might seem a bit tight but I'd rather share than waste money.

While we waited for our food I had a pint of the wonderfully named Hoptimus Prime, Z had a hot chocolate and R had a glass of milk which was served in the cutest flip-top Kilner bottle.  When the food arrived R had more than his fair share of my bangers and mash and wasn't interested in Z's chicken pie.  He's a harsh critic as both meals were superb!  That said, I do have ongoing issues with pies that are actually a stew with a pastry lid.

With lunch out of the way we cracked on with the shopping and I re-thought our evening meal.  Originally we were going to have smoked mackerel fish cakes, using up a packet of cooked peppered mackerel that had been destined for Z's lunch last week.  After a hefty pub lunch I fancied something lighter but was determined to use the fish and not waste food.  That was when kedgeree struck me.  I have only eaten kedgeree a couple of times and I had never cooked it before, but how hard could it be? 

Cooked rice and smoked fish stirred into fried onions and curry spices.  I always have some home ground garam masala in the store cupboard so there was no need for curry powder.  The finished dish is garnished with a hard boiled egg.  It really is that simple.  I know that it is traditionally eaten at breakfast time, but in a society that worships the All Day Breakfast, why can't we eat what we want when we want it.  I'm hereby reclaiming kedgeree as a supper dish.

*drunken miss-rememberings
**he's currently obsessed with Timmy Time and Shawn the Sheep.