Tag: cooking

Ninja Style Soups

Those that are regular visitors know I have a slight, if not disturbing infatuation with Ninja range of machines, and obviously use them all the time. The one machine I thought I would not use too much was the blender/soup maker. However, I was wrong and love making soups.

I have made so far;

  • Tomato & Basil
  • Curry Cauliflower
  • Butternut Squash
  • Chicken Noodle
  • Leak & Potato

Today I decided to make root vegetable with chicken and barley, and yes, it was delicious, so much so I have just made a second batch so I can take some to work tomorrow for lunch. The photos are of the last two soups I made. On the left is chicken noodle, and on the right is today’s soup Root Veg with Chicken & Barley, and I have included the recipe too.

Ingredients

  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 50g pearl barley
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 chicken thighs – boned and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 swede or 1 whole turnip
  • bay leaf
  • salt & pepper
  • Thyme or rosemary – your choice
  • Chopped parsley (keep till the end)

Chop all the vegetable into bit size chunks.

Ninja users – Put all ingredients into the pot and press chunky soup

Pot user – simmer the stock with the barley for 20 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Everyone – when cooked remove the bay leaf, serve in bowls with chopped parsley on the top.

Enjoy!

Kitchen Gadgets

I love my kitchen gadgets, and have many, from meat slicers to meat mincers, dehydrators to steam pressure ovens, you name it, I seem to have it. But, I have been looking at getting a Sous Vide water bath cooker. I have always fancied one, and I know that a lot of the top chefs use them. I admit I do have the vacuum sealer and lots of rolls of sealing bags, and I use this quite a lot, not only for preserving things but for when I freeze things too.

However, I have never gone to the expense of a Sous Vide cooker. Yes, a piece of steak may take 20 hours to cook, but the flavour is never lost, and quick flash fry in the pan to add colour makes it is the best steak ever. I dined at a 2 Michelin Star restaurant at the end of November, 17 courses, and I know that some of the food was prepared using the water bath method. Every course was quite literally to die for, and I do not say that lightly, it was a dining experience like no other.

My question to anyone out there who may have experience of a Sous Vide water bath, please let me know your thoughts, and for those that do not have experience, let me know your thoughts about it too. What should I do? Will it be a cupboard item? Is it worth getting and waiting for the perfect bite?

Answers on a postcard, or just below.

Food Porn…

Today I decided to make Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, and what a triumph, so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Ingredients

Olive Oil
50g Butter
1 Onion – diced fine
150g Dry-cured bacon chopped – I used oak smoked dry cured
Small pumpkin, you will need about 800g of flesh, peeled and de-seeded.
1-litre chicken stock
100ml double cream
3 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
Maple syrup

Instructions

In a large pan heat about a tablespoon of oil with half the butter, add the onion a good pinch of salt and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add about 60g of the bacon and cook for 5 mins more.  Increase the heat, add the stock and pumpkin and season.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, cover with a lid and leave for about 40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.  Depending on how big the chunks are, changes this time.  Add the cream and again, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
Whilst the soup is cooking toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, not too hot, and beware as they can pop and jump about.  They need to be coloured browns but don’t over toast.
Depending on what equipment you have depends on how you do this, but I used a stick blender in the pan to turn the chunky soup into a smooth silky soup.  You could put it in a liquidiser, but do it in batches as the hot soup will expand whilst in the blender and no one looks good with hot soup all over them and the kitchen.
Next, return the blended soup to the pan.  Melt the rest of the butter in another pan and cook the rest of the bacon for about 5 minutes, remove and pat dry of the butter and fats.  Re-heat the soup if needed.

Put the cooked bacon in the bottom of the soup dishes and pour the soup over.  Scatter with the toasted seeds and drizzle maple syrup over the soup, not too much as you done want a sugary soup.  Add seasoning to taste.

I toasted sourdough bread and cut it into strips to serve with the soup.  It added another layer of texture to it and is delicious.

Enjoy.

Twas the night before Christmas…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

Well, that’s not all that true, the dogs are running about playing with cardboard tubes.

I have been cooking and preparing all day for tomorrow.  My turkey is so big (too big) that it has taken close to 6 hours to cook.  I have made my traditional sage and onion stuffing, not the rubbish you get in packets.  I started making my trifle yesterday with the jelly and amaretto biscuits, this morning I made the custard, tomorrow I will do the cream and add the chocolate to the top.  I decided not to prep my veg today as I did a few years ago and ended up with veg that had split.

The table is decorated and laid out too, so all I have to do is relax and wait for Santa to arrive.  I now have a spatchcock chicken in for our dinner this evening.

When I first met M he always insisted on putting out a carrot for the reindeer and a glass of milk and mince pie/cake/cookie for Santa, this happened every year, and year on year the milk was drunk, the carrot and other offerings were eaten.  When M got up he always headed to the lounge gasped and smiled as Santa had been and eaten the fair that was left for him.  He knew it was me, we were the only people in the house, but he never said anything and neither did I.  One year he left a note and Santa replied to him.  This must have gone on for 10 years or more, but stopped as we had just got Harper and leaving food and milk on the hearth for Santa was not going to happen as she would sneak out and consume it all, and that was my job.  It was a magical time, although we both knew it was me and M was in his 30’s that did not make a difference, it was something fun.  I am hoping that he starts it again, I will just have to make sure I get up in the middle of the night to do my part.

This will be our first Christmas in this house without Lilu, but our first with Mazikeen.

Tonight whilst watching rubbish TV and drinking good cheer I will be finishing off my sweater.  I have been doing the neck and want it to be quite long so it can be folded back and make it even warmer.  With a bit of luck I will have it finished, then I can sew it up and wear it finally.  I have attached the front and back at the shoulders and picked up all the stitches I needed to make the neck, but it weighs a tonne so finishing it off is taking quite a bit of manoeuvring about, but it will be worth it in the end.

Well, with that, all is left for me to wish you, one and all, to have a very Merry Christmas.

Baking – Soda Farls

My Hubby is Irish, so many many years ago I learned how to make proper Irish Soda Bread, Wheaten Bread & Soda Farls.  Since winter is well and truly on its way, and it is lashing with rain outside I thought I would make us some.  I thought I would share my recipe and do a show and tell.

Ingredients

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (I use sea salt)
  • 250ml Buttermilk

 

Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Make a well and add the buttermilk, although do not add it all as you can keep adding whilst mixing rather than make it too wet.

Mix and knead the dough on a floured surface, but be gentle, you really only want to knead it into shape.  Slice a cross into the top with a sharp knife that has been floured.

Pop the farl onto a hot griddle pan, or if you only have a frying pan, that will work nicely, but again, be gentle, don’t go in at too high a temperature or you will end up with a crispy dough ball.  I use a tepanyaki grill plate to make mine and have the temperature about 150c.

Partway through cooking flip it over and cook the other side.

Again flip it over, and tap the base to see if it is cooking, it should make a hollow sound, and if not carry on cooking.

As you can see the farl has split where the score marks were and have browned nicely.  Finally, when you are happy with it, wrap it in a tea cloth and set aside, this will ensure that it finishes off cooking and traps moisture, and makes it chewy, and brings out the subtle soda taste.  I used to use a proper Irish Linnen tea cloth, but alas it bit the dust some time ago.

It should take about 20 minutes to cook through.

Once it has cooled split it into four, then slice through the side horizontally, so you end up with 8 quarters if you cut it all at once.  Toast and enjoy with lashings of butter and a slice of mature cheese like cheddar.  Also delicious with bacon and egg.

 

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