Welcome to Yet Another Cooking Blog.

As you may have guessed, this is a blog about cooking - in particular my cooking. It has been mentioned to me several times that I seem a little obsessed with food, so I have decided to blog about my menus, my successes, my failures and anything else that springs to mind

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Week 9 dinner menu

Monday - Pork fried rice, sui mai
Tuesday - Fish cakes, croquettes and veg
Wednesday - Sausages, mash and baked beans
Thursday - Pasta and ragu/pasta salad, garlic bread
Friday - Freezer surprise
Saturday - Rack of lamb, baby new potatoes and peas with a red wine sauce
Sunday - Chicken curry and rice

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Tapas night

Thursday night was supposed to be a curry night, but I was in the mood for something a little closer to home, so it became a tapas night.

Served was -

Cheats patatas bravas
Garlic butter prawns
Paella (made by my husband as that is a mans job)
Chorizo in red wine
Stuffed red peppers

Cheats patatas bravas


New potatoes
Tub of tomato salsa
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.  Chop the potatoes into large chunks,season  and drizzle with olive oil

3.  Roast for 30-40 minutes turning occasionally until soft through and crunchy on the outside

4.  Serve in a bowl with the salsa poured over the top

Garlic butter prawns


Cooked and peeled Prawns
Chopped garlic

1.  Put all of the ingredients into a dish and put into the oven for the last 15 minutes of the cooking time of the potatoes

Stuffed red peppers


Red peppers
Lemon and coriander couscous
Sundried tomatoes
Mozarella cheese
Olive oil

1.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds

2.  Drizzle with olive oil

3.  Make the couscous according to the instructions on the packet

4.  Chop the sundried tomatoes and add to the couscous

5.  Spoon the couscous into the peppers

6.  Tope with a slice of mozarella cheese

7.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the peppers are soft

Chorizo in red wine


Cooking chorizo
Red wine

1.  Chop the chorizo into bite size pieces

2.  Put into a bowl and add enough red wine to cover the chorizo

3.  Put in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes

4.  If the wine is still thin, pour into a saute pan and reduce until slightly thickened then pour back over the chorizo

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Chorizo hash with poached egg

This is a very simple tasty dish perfect for a quick midweek supper.

Ingredient (for 2 people)

2 cooking chorizo sausage (the ones the size of a regular pork sausage) chopped
New potatoes
1/2 large onion
Olive oil
2 eggs (the fresher the better)
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1.  Cut the potatoes into quarters (if they are large potatoes cut them down into bite size pieces).

2.  Put the potatoes on to cook in a pan of boiled water (they should take about 8-10 minutes). Drain well when cooked to ensure they are dry.

3.  Chop the onion into small pieces and soften in a large saute pan with a little olive oil.

4.  Add the chopped chorizo  and cook for 2 minutes.

5.  Whilst this is cooking, put a saucepan on with water and a dash of white wine vinegar.

6.  Add the drained potatoes to the saute pan and fry in the oil until they start crisping.

7.  Whilst the potatoes are cooking, when the water has just come to the boil carefully pour your eggs into the water and leave on a very gentle boil for about 3 minutes for a soft poached egg.

8.  Serve the hash with the poached egg on top, and season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Katsu Curry


1 chicken breast per person
1 egg, beaten
Panko breadcrumbs
Japanese sticky rice
Pickled ginger
Furikake of choice (I have used wasabe sesame seeds here)
Japanese curry block
Sunflower or other tasteless oil

1.  Put each chicken breast into a plastic bag and beat with a tenderiser hammer or something else heavy (I use a rolling pin) until the chicken is flat and even.

2.  Put the rice on to cook as per the instructions (usually it is 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, cooked with the lid on for 10 minutes, and then left switched off with the lid on for 10 minutes).

3.  Coat the chicken in cornflour, coat in the beaten egg and then coat in the panko breadcrumbs.

4.  In a large frying pan put enough oil to be able to fully immerse the chicken.  Whilst it is warming put the oven on to 180 degrees C to heat.

5.  Put the chicken breast into the oil when it is hot enough to turn bread golden within 30 seconds, and cook until golden brown.  Remove when it is golden and put on kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.  Put into the oven to complete the cooking (this will take approximately 15 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken is).

6.  Whilst the chicken is cooking through in the oven, make the curry sauce according to the instructions on the curry block (I used S+B golden curry block).

7.  To serve, cut the chicken into slices and plate.  Fill a small bowl or dish with sticky rice, press down lightly and then demould onto the plate.  Put curry sauce on the chicken, and dress the rice with the furikake and pickled ginger.

Serve with an iced plum wine and soda.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cooking class - Mexican

Todays cooking class (the last in my four christmas present classes) was in mexican cuisine.  it was held at El Rio in Macclesfield.  This was a smaller class than the others I had attended, as there were only 8 students participating.

On arrival I was offered a margarita (well, I couldn't refuse!).  The restaurant is closed on sundays, so the owner who is also the chef was teaching the class.

After introductions, we had an initial talk on some of the ingredients used in mexican cooking, in particular the smoky chipotle paste (a recipe for the paste was supplied in our information packs).  We then started with a quick session on knife skills and then prepared our vegetables for the dishes we were going to be making - refried beans, salsa and a chicken burrito (the two people who only ate fish made swordfish burritos).

The first dish we made was the refried beans, using beans that the chef had already soaked and cooked the night before (although tinned pinto beans are more than acceptable).  Once we had made these, we started cooking the sauce for the burrito as the flavours needed to intensify before we added our marinated chicken.  Throughout the class, chef was describing how the ingredients are used, the use of chillis, the chipotle paste, the use of oregano and also how these foods are often eaten in mexico.  Once we had put the chicken into the sauce to cook through (the meat had been pre-cooked, but needed warming through) we made out salsa.  The burrito's were then wrapped and packaged for us to take home and bake.  As there was lots of filling left over, chef warmed some corn and wheat tortillas so that we could eat the rest of our dish.

There was a very good atmosphere at this class, and chef was very helpful, so I would advise it for anyone wanting to get into mexican food and make something other than mexican food with a kit.

Week 8 dinner menu

Monday - Sausages, mash, beans and gravy
Tuesday - Chicken katsu curry and sticky rice
Wednesday - Chorizo hash with poached egg
Thursday - Bermondsey curry, rice, naan bread and gobi 65
Friday - Rack of lamb, roasted new potatoes, red wine sauce and salad
Saturday - Seafood risotto and salad
Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings

Cooking class - Italian

One of my christmas presents was 4 cooking classes in for cuisines - Japanese, Thai, Italian and Mexican.  Yesterday I had my Italian cooking class.

The class was held in Stock Restaurant in Manchester.  We were very fortunate to have the head chef - Enzo Mauro teach us the basics of Italian cuisine in a two hour class.  The class started with introductions, and an agenda that went through what we would learn in the class.  In this session we were to make a basic neapolitan sauce, meatballs (to cook in the sauce) and a classic green pesto.

After the introductions were made, we all went to our stations where we first made the neapolitan sauce (a tomato sauce used as a base for many other pasta dishes).  Chef took the opportunity while we were cooking to talk about olive oil, describing the differences between extra virgin, virgin and the oil pressed from the stones (the name of which I can't remember but will update when I do).  He also described the method used by experts when tasting oils, which includes rubbing it on the hand to warm and then smell - in order to assess the acidity and aroma of the oil.  All very interesting!

Whilst we were cooking the sauce, the next step was to make the meatballs to put in the sauce.  These were very simple (but very tasty) comprising of -

Beef mince
Fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper

I learned here not to brown or fry the meatballs first, just to put them straight into the pasta sauce to cook in there.  This makes them tender and juicy, and don't get the spongy texture you can get with them when they have been pre-cooked.

As these would take a while to cook, the next thing to make was the pesto.  This was the first time I had made pesto, but it was so delicious I will be making it again.

Chef was incredibly helpful, and when he wasn't helping us to adjust our dishes, to give tips or to answer our questions, he was regaling us with stories about his time working with Ricky Stein and Keith Floyd.

At the end of the class, chef talked to us about some of the different types of pastas available, and what dishes they are most suitable for.

For anyone who enjoys cooking and enjoys Italian food, I would definitely recommend this class.  If you are interested, the classes are available through Intafood

Monday, 14 February 2011

Bermondsey chicken curry

I have previously described how I used my imagination to make up a curry sauce which is now affectionately named Bermondsey curry.  As I made this tonight, I thought I would share the completed dish.

Week 7 dinner menu

Monday - chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Tuesday - Chicken braised in cider and chorizo with celeriac mash
Wednesday - Freezer surprise
Thursday - Fish pasta
Friday - Chilli with rice and fried potatoes
Saturday - Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and salad
Sunday - Chicken fajitas

Steak and chips

Everyone knows how to cook steak and chips, yes?

Not quite.  Its very easy to end up with a steak that would be suitable as a piece of shoe leather (and probably as tasty).  And chips?  even easier to end up with soggy bags of fat on your plate.

In my opinion, if your steak needs tenderising with a mallet prior to cooking it, it isn't suitable to be cooked as a steak.  A tough piece of meat needs slow cooking to bring the best out of it.  I always look for a steak with some fat marbling through it, so that it stays beautifully tender.  True, it may not be healthy, but everything in moderation and all that!

When it comes to cooking a steak I always use a griddle pan.  Some people use a grill, but I don't think my grill gets hot enough to do it justice.  just prior to cooking, I season with salt and pepper (sometimes substituting regular salt for garlic salt).  I put the steak into a very hot griddle pan, turning once halfway through.  You will notice I haven't given cooking times for the steak, as this would vary dependent on the cut, the thickness of the steak, and how the person eating it likes their steak cooked.

How to feel that a steak is cooked correctly

Steak can be cooked blue, rare, medium, well done or somewhre between each of these.  try the following to understand how your steak should feel when pressed to assess how it is cooked.

Touch your thumb and first finger together, and then press on the ball of your thumb.  You will feel that the flesh is quite soft.  Now press your thumb and middle finger together.  You will feel that the ball of your thumb feels a little firmer.  As you move along to each finger you will find it gets firmer, with the little finger touching the thumb the firmest.  If you assume that index finger equals rare, and little finger equals well done, you can now feel how your steak will feel when pressed.

Once you have cooked your steak, it should always rest for a few minutes on a warm plate otherwise it will be tough and you won't get the best from your steak.

Now that you can cook a nice steak, the next thing to think about is the chips to go with it.  I very rarely cook chips at home (maybe once every 2 months) so when I do, I want to get them right.

The first thing is choosing your potatoes.  You don't want a waxy potato, you want a floury potato so that the inside of the chip is soft and fluffy.  Potatoes such as rooster or Maris Piper are good chipping potatoes.  The next thing you need is the oil to cook them in.  If you want to use a bottled oil, it is best to use a flavourless oil such as sunflower oil.  Olive oil has a strong flavour and the flavour will taint the chips.  If you are feeling decadent (or remember the 'olden days') then beef fat is a fantastic fat for cooking chips in.  It tolerates the high temperatures very well.

I do not have a deep fat fryer, so I fry chips in a large frying pan with deep sides.  I heat the oil, and test it with a piece of bread (it should brown within approximately 30 seconds).  Once you have peeled and cut your potatoes, make sure they are very dry before you put them in the oil, otherwise it will spit, and that hurts if it hits you.  Put the chips into the pan ensuring that all of the chips are in the oil.  The oil should bubble around the chips and then settle down to an oil equivalent of a 'high simmer'. You may need to turn the pan down slightly if they are browning quickly.  As we cook the chips twice, we don't want them to brown to much on the first fry.   Dependent on how fat your chips are, the chips may take about 10 minutes to cook.  Take them out and drain them well on some kitchen paper.  While the chips are out of the pan is when I normally cook my steaks, so that while they are resting on a plate, the chips can get their second fry.  The point of the second fry is to get the chips nice and crispy (soggy chips are not good).  Bring the heat back up on your pan (test again with bread if needed), and return the chips to the frying pan.  The point of this fry is to colour and to ensure the outside is crispy.  so they don't need to be in the pan long.  As soon as they are a lovely golden colour they can be removed and drained.

I hope you enjoy your steak and chips after reading this, I did!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Week 6 dinner menu

Monday - Smoked sausage, mash potato and sauerkraut
Tuesday - Yaki Udon and tempura prawns, with gyoza
Wednesday - Grilled salmon, new potatoes and salad
Thursday - Chicken pie, carrot mash and french style peas
Friday - Fishcakes, crispy new potatoes, salad with lemon mayonnaise
Saturday - Steak with homemade chips
Sunday - Chicken curry with rice

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rosalind's weaning experience

I have a daughter called Rosalind who is just starting her experience with food.  We have decided to wean her using the baby led weaning style.  Basically this involves not pureeing food, just giving her what you or I would eat, starting with fruit and vegetables, and moving up with meat etc - obviously with a few limitations such as cutting down salt and not giving honey until she is a year old.

Rosalinds first food was banana when she grabbed my hand and pulled the banana I was holding into her mouth, so I took that as the signal that she wanted to start eating.

Below is Rosalinds first attempt at eating fromage frais (interesting, as you give her a loaded spoon and let her work it out)

A messy but fun experience!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches

OK.  I admit it.  I'm a very fussy eater.  I am a nightmare in a restaurant, because of the reasons you are to shortly read.  I find it hard to try new foods (but I generally will try them).

The three foods that I hate the most title this post - eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches.  Now before you ask, I don't make it a habit of having a chew on a slug in the garden on a sunny evening, and cockroaches are too crunchy!

Anyway, the reason this post is called eyeballs, slugs and cockroaches is because that is how I describe the three foods I really really dislike.


Eyeballs are what the average person would call a tomato.  Out of my three dislikes - this is by far the worst.  This is the only one where I can really say I dislike the flavour enough to make me retch.  The worst culprit has to be the cherry tomato.  Little eyeballs that pop in your mouth when you bite them, squirting slimey juice and pips.  The only tomato I can really manage, is when it has been cooked for a very long time until it is basically a tomato sauce (like a pasta sauce), but if you watch me, you will see me picking out the lumps if it hasn't completely fallen apart.


Slugs are a strange one (mushrooms to the uninitiated).  I like the flavour of mushrooms, but I really dislike the texture, unless they have been fried to a crisp.  I have been reliably informed that up to the age of about 5, one of my favorite foods was mushrooms on toast, so I don't know what caused the change.  I do however know what locked in the dislike - when I was 18 I was in a beefeater type restarant where I had ordered a steak.  It was served with tinned button mushrooms.  Guess who made the mistake of trying one to see if the dislike of mushrooms had changed?  From that attempt - the answer was no.  That was 20 years ago, and I can still remember it very clearly.


Now cockroaches is a strange one - as I don't dislike the food per se - but I dislike what always occurs when I eat them.  Cockroaches are kidney beans (now you know!). As a child my dad always made chilli with a tin of baked beans rather than kidney beans, which I put down to a dislike of his (and I admit I like it made that way now).  When I started eating chilli anywhere except at home, of course kidney beans were the bean of choice.  Now - I don't know if I am just a very unlucky lady, or there is a kidney bean conspiracy, but every time I had chilli I would get about half way through and then get a rock hard kidney bean.  This is rather off putting, when you don't know if you are going to crack a tooth through the rest of your meal.  I put kidney beans and baked beans in my chilli these days as my husband likes them, and at the end of the meal there is a little pile of cockroaches on my plate.

At the beginning of this post I said that I am a nightmare in a restaurant.  Apart from disliking tomato and mushroom, I have another dislike that combined with the above make certain styles of food rather difficult to buy.

I dislike savoury creamy sauces/soups.  I am not averse to a blob of cream with my lemon tart, but I simply don't like cream to taste savoury.  Putting 2+2 together (and possibly making 96) if you don't like mushrooms, don't like tomatoes and don't like creamy sauces, it really crosses off alot on an average european menu!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Week 5 dinner menu

Monday - Takeaway
Tuesday - sausages and mash
Wednesday - Salmon, new potatoes, peas and rocket salad
Thursday - Slow cooked chilli con carne and rice
Friday - Chinese feast
Saturday - Lasagne, garlic bread and salad
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings