Saturday, 26 April 2008

Poached Eggs

I admit to my shame that I have just found out how to make proper poached eggs, I often cook 2 at time, so they often got kind of mixed up with each other, at least the whites did.. Even 1 egg got into a bit of a mess in the pan.

Then the best sister in the world made breakfast for 3 and produced beautiful eggs with 'puffed up' whites, and each egg separate.

So today I had a go and this is what I did:

I put on a (non-stick) pan of water with the addition of a small quantity of vinegar. I hate any malt vinegar, so it was balsamic vinegar.

I brought this to the boil, while in the meantime cracking 2 eggs into a mug each.

I turned the heat down so that the pan was on a rolling boil, and slid in the eggs.

I cooked them till they looked ready (sorry this is no use, so I think it was about 4 minutes) I always find it strange that a poached egg takes virtually the same time as a boiled egg to cook.

While they were cooking, I split a roll, buttered both sides and made my cup of tea.


Not quite as pretty as the best sister in the world's ones as they did not really puff up,

But success! they kept themselves to themselves, so to speak, and there was no taste of vinegar.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Pot Roast

Today I made a very easy recipe which uses cuts of beef that are not tender enough for roasting. I used a topside of beef.

It is an infinitely variable recipe and depends on what you have in the house.

The principle is that you make a bed of vegetables, place the joint of beef on top , cover the vegetables (not the beef) with water ( salt to taste after adding the water), and give the whole thing a long slow cook.

Today, I looked in the fridge and took:

1 small turnip (Swede)
2 large carrots (1 red, 1 white)
2 onions
1 leek.

All were washed, chopped and added to my stock pot, then the meat placed on top.

(I had to make a bit of a well in the vegetables to hold the meat as the pan was not otherwise tall enough.)

I then added water to the top of the vegetables, salted it and brought it to the boil.

I love my hob as I was able to turn it down to the usual 2 setting and after about an hour was able to turn it down to 1 and it continued to simmer.

What a good meal it made.

I think that even a relatively small joint will make enough meat for 3 meals.


I have whizzed the stock and vegetables and so have a good soup as well as cold meat for at least 2 more meals.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Cauliflower Gratin


1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small cauliflower
1oz plain flour
1oz butter
little butter for frying
½ pint skimmed milk
3 oz Scottish mature cheddar, grated


Place the onion and garlic in a heavy based pan and sauté in a little butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pan, continue cooking with a lid on, so the vegetables cook partially in their own steam while you make the sauce.

Place the flour and butter in a saucepan over a moderate heat to make a roux, gradually add the milk, stirring between additions.

Remove from the heat and add the cheese. You can also add mustard and black pepper to give it a nice kick. (I always add 1 tsp Dijon mustard for every pint of cheese sauce.)

Place the cauliflower mixture in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce, sprinkle more cheese over the top and bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Lamb Curry

This recipe is also shamelessly stolen, but this time from younger son. I prefer coconut milk rather than stock.

Serves 4


Cooked Lamb
Fat from roasting lamb
2 onions
2 carrots
1 green pepper
2 green chillies
1 tin tomatoes
½ Tbsp ground cumin
½ Tbsp ground fenugreek
½ Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic.
½ pt stock ( may be worth trying coconut milk instead)
1 glass red wine
1 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp mango chutney


Fry onions. Add spices, chillies and garlic and continue to fry gently.

Throw in tinned tomatoes, vegetables and meat. Add Stock, red wine, mustard and mango chutney.

Cook for at least an hour on a very low temperature.

Indonesian Chicken Curry

This is a recipe I have shamelessly stolen from elder son and daughter-in-law. It is absolutely delicious and can be made to suit a variety of tastes as to heat of a curry by adding more or less cayenne pepper.

Serves 4


1 Tbsps sunflower oil
1½ lb (675g) chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into pieces (I use them already boned - skinning and cutting are easy)
6 oz (175g) onions peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 tsp (15ml) ground coriander
2 tsp (10ml) ground cumin
2 tsp (10ml) ground lemon grass (or Bart’s lemon grass in sunflower oil)
6 whole green cardamoms
¼ tsp (1.25ml) cayenne pepper (I use a bit more)
½ pint (300ml) chicken stock
¼ pint (150ml) single cream
3oz (75g) creamed coconut (in pieces)
1 Tbsp (15ml) light soy sauce
1 Tbsp tomato puree
4 tsp (20ml) soft light brown sugar
15oz (425g) tin mango slices rinsed and drained (or peach slices if you can’t find mango)


Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and fry the garlic and onions until golden.
Sprinkle over the coriander, cumin, lemon grass, cardamoms and cayenne pepper
Fry gently for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces a fry for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the stock, cream, coconut, tomato puree, soy sauce and brown sugar.
Slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened to a coating consistency.
Stir in the mango slices.

This looks complicated but in fact it is really easy. I always have my ingredients laid out ready before I start cooking, with the spices measured onto one plate.

When eating, watch out for the whole cardamoms!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Casserole of Pork Cheeks

I bought the pork cheeks at the Farmers' Market, even though I had never heard of them, never mind tried them, before. In my family I was always known as the casserole queen, so here goes with another one.

To cook this recipe I use a large saute pan on my induction hob. The lid is so well fitting and the hob so controllable that no liquid is lost during the cook. In the absence of something similar, I would do all the frying in a large frying pan, then transfer to a casserole dish and put in the oven for a long slow cook

3 pork cheeks, cut into bite sized pieces (a sharp knife is the easiest way)
3 onions, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Half of each of a red pepper, a green pepper and a yellow pepper, chopped
3 tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped finely
about 8 good sized closed cup mushrooms, chopped
Left overs from a bottle of light beer.

Fry the onions and garlic in a herb infused oil (or other oil - I am just boasting here - in fact it was a gift from Le Chef) - until soft.
Add the peppers and fry till soft.
Add pork cheeks and fry until brown.Add mushrooms and stir through.
Add tomatoes and beer
Stir through and bring to the boil.
Cook slowly with the lid on until tender

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Elaine's Famous Potato Salad

Potatoes (peeled if old, scrubbed if new) boiled and sliced - leave to cool.
I usually boil about 20 baby new potatoes or 20 pieces of other sizes.

Pancetta or bacon bits fried (good handful), or crispy bacon crushed - leave to cool.

Shallot or two, diced small.

Parsley (handful), chopped.

Chives (handful), chopped.

Mix all together with Helmanns mayonnaise sufficient to coat.

Extremely moreish

Place in bowl covered with clingfilm and put in fridge. It will last for a few days - if you give it the chance!

Tinker's Casserole

I was intrigued to find this recipe in my recipe book* as I have not made it for years; it was a staple part of my repertoire in the 70s.

1lb chuck steak cut into 1” cubes
1 oz seasoned flour
4 oz bacon trimmings, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 pint light ale
2 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
4 oz sliced mushrooms

Toss steak in seasoned flour
Fry bacon in large pan without fat until golden
Add steak and fry quickly until golden
Add remaining ingredients except mushrooms and bring to boiling point

Turn into a 2 1/2 pint casserole and cook at 325F or 170C for 1 1/2 hours. Add mushrooms and cook for another 30 minutes

* later: To avoid confusion here, I should add that my "recipe book" is a collection of recipes made over a number of years, originally in a ring back folder, but now on my computer

Meat Loaf

This was my mother's recipe. She never bought mince (and this was long before BSE scares or the horrifying discovery of mechanically recovered meat), she always used round, or rump steak. She used to ask the butcher to mince together the meat steak and the ham. If he was given advance notice, he would do it before closing so that any left over ham did not contaminate other mince meat for other customers.

¾ lb mince )
¼ lb ham ) minced together
crumbs from 3 slices of bread
salt and pepper
1 beaten egg
little milk
little tomato ketchup
few drops Worcestershire sauce

Mix together and place in greased bowl

Cover with greaseproof paper

Instead of a greased bowl, my mother used to use a cylindrical earthenware dish, which made the meat loaf easy to slice.

Steam for 2 hours

Pheasant Stroganoff and Basmati Rice

This serves one

butter for frying
½ onion, finely chopped
2 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 pheasant breast, cut into thin strips (check for shot / feather bits)
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 dessertspoon brandy
50 mls (minimum) crème fraiche or soured cream
freshly chopped parsley

Melt butter in large frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently till soft.
Add the mushrooms and fry for two minutes.
Add the pheasant to the pan, season well and stir in the mustard.
Fry briskly for 5 mins, turning the meat frequently.
Stir in the brandy and crème fraiche. If using soured cream don’t boil or the cream will curdle.
Check the seasoning and serve with parsley.

This is of course based on a Beef Stroganoff recipe, but works very well with pheasant.

I am very lucky to get some game from time to time.

Basmati rice has a much better texture than long grain.