Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Monday roasts – the way forwards?

Mondays. They are challenging aren’t they? It takes a very special set of plans to take away the post weekend blues. By chance last weekend (as all truly great discoveries are made) I was forced into making a Monday roast by a fast-perishing chicken in my fridge. At first I thought it would be too much of a faff, who wants to wait around on a Monday night for their dinner?  More to the point, who wants to have to wash up more than one pan on a Monday night?

This is where the one tray roast comes in. Granted it won’t work so well if you are a large household but if there are two of you, it is roasting genius. Gentle crush three or four garlic cloves and rub the insides over the chicken. Cut a lemon into 8 segments and squeeze some juice over the chicken. Pop some of the lemon and garlic in and around the chicken along with some wedges of red onion. Pour over some olive oil and into the oven it goes for about an hour and a half for a small chicken, but check the packaging for guidance and pock it in the leg with your carving fork to make sure the juices run clear when you think it’s done.

Peel  some potatoes and boil for ten to fifteen minutes. Drain and bash them around in the pot a little to rough up the edges for extra crispy bits. Chuck these in the pan with the chicken when it has about forty five minutes to go and coat in olive oil. Serve with some gravy thickened out using your roasting juices and with the red onion mixed in for a scrumptious feast that will make any Monday worth getting going for. 

I am convinced that the smell of a chicken roasting on a cold day with a big glass of red in hand is one of the greatest things about our seasonal weather and THE best thing to do with a dreary winter’s Monday night. I hope you agree!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Warm Winter Salads

If you’ve started growing your own winter veg you will be rewarded by now with a bountiful crop of salad greens that you can dress up to the nines to make some fantastic winter salads.

I made this creation last weekend by tweaking a recipe from the new book from Lorraine Pascal, Home Cooking Made Easy. I used mostly frill mustard leaves and land cress which grows so fast in my shady garden that I struggle to keep up!

The recipe is very simple. The slight peppery taste of the mustard and cress goes really well with some fried super thin strips of pancetta which are cooked first of all and set aside. I then put some peeled and quartered pears into the hot pan with a drizzle of honey. Cook these for about five mins and then splash over some balsamic vinegar. Serve these on top of the salad leaves, top with the bacon. Meanwhile add some more honey to the hot pan and a spoonful of Dijon mustard. Cook through and pour over your salad. I then added some mozzarella balls though Lorraine used blue cheese (I’m not a fan of stinky cheese!)

This was so delish that even my salad hating husband rated it. I served it with some garlic bread and the opportunity to put my feet up. What more could you want on an autumnal day?!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Baking with Guinness

Have you ever baked with Guinness? If not then I wholeheartedly advocate that you get on board. There is something about the rich bitterness of it that when baked with chocolate or spices (and even better topped with cream cheese icing) that is truly fabulous. Another hidden bonus is the sneaky half pint you get after you’ve measured out what you need and must dispose of the rest!

So here are two of my highly recommended Guinness baking recipes that do particularly well for any birthdays of the men in your life. You won’t have leftovers!  Enjoy!