My eldest is starting to eat us out of house and home…an example of this is breakfast, he’s started getting through 4 Weetabix a day! Not really a problem apart from cost and the feeling of being visited by a locust as he inhales the buscuits. I find breakfast cereals really annoying in terms of cost, actual nutritional content and the promise of keeping hunger at bay. Porridge though, passed down through the generations, a warming soul food. Not too expensive and a genuine life saver in terms of keeping my boys happy.
Oats have got to be one of this worlds gifts, a humble ingredient and so versatile especially in this simple recipe. We are a hundred percent milk house, you can use a blend of water and milk and adjust to taste, a pinch of salt if needed, a drop of honey to add sweetness. I love chopped banana and blueberries. Easy to make this your own.
Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
- 50g porridge oats
- 250g milk (or 150g milk/100g water)
- In a microwave bowl, weigh 50g of the oats
- In the same bowl pour in the milk to the 300g mark (You could measure 250ml from jug). Just easier on the scale to pour from the 2 litre bottles we buy
- Mix together and put in the fridge overnight (optional)
- Microwave for 1.5 mins, stir
- Microwave for 1 minute, stir
- Microwave for 30 seconds, stir
Alternatively bring to a simmer on the stove, stirring all the while, you want to it to barely speak to you with a plop and a burp.
I now leave my boys to it, they have adapted their technique to their own preference. The youngest doesn’t like to soak overnight, and the eldest likes to soak and has changed his own variables
Bolognese EdinburghCook Style
Bolognese when I was a boy came from a Colman’s packet, a dry substance that was mixed with hot water and mince that had been browned for 5 minutes or so served with a bland starchy spaghetti. My sister and I desperately trying to convince my dad that it would be great idea, worth a change and add some variety to our menu. I can’t remember how we convinced him, but we did and it was horrible! Maybe it was us, we weren’t cooks, the sauce I remember was so watery and tasteless, we put a brave face on and made out it was great! We didn’t get to try again, probably a good thing!
As a student I moved onto jars of Dolmio probably buy 1 get 1 free and then later after graduation more sophisticated jars of pasta sauce with bake in the oven magic skills. At some point though I became aware that these jars came with sugar, salt and all manner of preservatives. I’m pretty sure they came with the word authentic across the label, or just like mama used to make. Somehow I became aware that all that was really needed was a tin of good quality tomatoes, some seasoning, good mince and some slow cook time.
I’ve come across many variations of a Bolognese recipe all claiming to be authentic and I’ve tried a few of them, hoping to come across the secret sauce, the be all and end all of all Bolognese recipes to end them all. I’ve come to realise that the authentic Bolognese is your own recipe…the one that works for you and your family.
Mine, I adapt for the mood, it’s always made with view of having enough to freeze, use up the onions and the carrots from the veg box, even the odd chilli and then I add kidney beans as well…..please don’t shoot me….I know it’s not traditional authentic…..it works for us though! I hope you get something from my recipe!
Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
Prep: This roughly covers 12 portions, we get 3 meals for 4 in terms of freezer prep. Good sized casserole dish, heavy based pan.
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- 100g pancetta or bacon (I use ham ends from the butcher), diced
- 2 Onions, finely chopped
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2-3 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1kg mince (Our butcher now does minced pork, so I use 500g of pork and 500g beef)
- 1 tblsp dried oregano
- 300ml red wine (could use white)
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100g split red lentils (controversial! Optional)
- Salt and black pepper
- 150ml whole milk
To serve, up until recently we were big fans of Spaghetti or Fusilli. My recent discovery being that Spaghetti is a British/American take on the dish. More traditional would be Tagliatelle or Pappardelle and mixed into the pasta rather than served on top in a big dollop.
Goes without saying freshly grated parmesan adds that true authentic taste!
- Heat the oil, and gently brown the bacon
- With the heat at a gentle setting, add the veg to this and soften the onions, garlic, carrots and celery with the idea of creating a Soffrito, a soft base of veg
- At this point I tip this into a bowl and put to a side….just so I can really get stuck in with the meat. You can crumble the mince straight into the pan if you like.
- Turn the heat up slightly and using a wooden spoon break the mince down, browning it as you go. The mince needs to have lost all its colour.
- Once browned throw the veg back in if you went for the separate bowl option.
- Add the Oregano, stir through.
- Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
- Add the Wine and stir through, bring to a simmer.
- Add the tomatoes and the purée, stir through and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and pop the lid on for an 1hr 30mins. You just want the ragu to talk to itself for an hour so. Keep an eye on it…I like to nurture it.
- At this point I stir in the milk….some people add a bit of dark chocolate. The milk adds a subtle creaminess that I like
- At this point I gage whether it’s too runny and add the lentils in, simmer and stir for 30 mins. This both soaks up the liquid at the same time as bulking out the meal for the boys who just seem to be eating more and more! You could just take the lid off and simmer slowly for 30 mins to thicken up
Chicken Pot Roast
Chicken Pot Roast for 2
A dreich weekend, a head cold to boot and looking after our nephews called for a simple bang in the oven treat. Chicken was the staple of my youth, but there was not a herb in site let alone garlic, just bisto!
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: You’ll need a large bowl for tossing the ingredients together and a lidded roasting dish. The recipe will scale easily, so chose an appropriate roasting dish. This is perfect for 2 in a small le Creuset
- 4 Chicken Thighs
- 3 medium roasting potatoes cut into chunks
- 100g Bacon Pieces/diced streaky
- 3 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
- 1 Onion Quartered and then chopped again
- 2 Sprigs of Rosemary, or few sprigs of thyme
- Olive Oil
- Juice of a Lemon
- 2 tbsp Crème Fraiche
The recipe card recommends serving with a green salad, or braised cabbage like I did.
- Preheat the oven to 180°c
- In a large bowl, mix/turn over the potatoes with
- Chopped onions
- Diced bacon
- Finely sliced garlic
- Finely chopped rosemary or thyme
- Good glug of olive oil
- Once everything coated with the oil tip into the casserole dish
- Place the chicken pieces on top, brush with a little oil if you want the skin to colour
- Place in the oven with the lid on for 40 mins
- After this make a judgement call,
- I took the lid off and placed back in the oven to colour the skin
- Could have taken the chicken out and roasted separately if the veg was well on its way.
- Take the chicken out and place on a plate
- Add the lemon juice and the crème fraiche to the potatoes and turn over
I skipped coffee last week, I’m sorry I was caught up in crazyness and wondering what it was all about. One of those why am I doing this stuff kind of moments. That and time, where does it all go?
This week I came across Ryder Carroll and his Bullet Journal Technique…..he has a TEDx talk on ‘How to lead an Intentional Life’
I love the quote: ‘You can’t make time, You can only take time’
I’m 3 days into using his framework and really trying to adopt some of the techniques to manage my time, to take the time to manage my brain. Just google Bullet Journal and all will be revealed!
So today I’m taking time to share coffee…..good morning! Thanks for popping by. I’ve got a fuzzy head this morning, the coffee is strong to help break through the fug and give me a chance of making the most of a Sunday. No Sympathy is requested, a self-inflicted one glass too many on the wine front and a nice little night cap of Whisky.
We had pals round for dinner, long standing friends that have followed my wife and I round all our various tables through the last 20 years or so. Sometimes the same table different location. Always good to see them and aside from the 5 minute blip with the kids getting too excited which resulted in me reading the riot act. We had a great night.
We served up a Veggie Lasagne and a Cranachan Cheesecake (A Scottish twist on a baked cheesecake). Home-made Lasagne is a real labour of love and I always under estimate how long it takes especially when I choose to make the pasta as well. I can’t find a link to the cheesecake recipe….but the Lasagne recipe I based mine on can be found at chez Jamie Oliver’s.
I learnt a few things making this recipe and definitely a keeper…..but it definitely needs to be doctored to make it your own and the way it’s laid out really frustratingly for finding one’s feet as you try and find where you are.
Just written in my journal…… write up my version, see if I can make it simpler!
Thanks for joining me for coffee, thanks to Nerd in the Brain who hosts the Weekend Coffee Share and for relieving my writers block this morning by reminding me of my organisation discovery this week.
Hearty soup, based on minestrone
A few minutes spare in the Sorrento supermarket allowed me to take a moment to explore all the different shapes and sizes on offer. This particular shape took my fancy and it’s only now that I Farfalline translates to butterflies.
Prep: Large Stock Pot with Lid, As ever don’t get precious over the veg you use, just pick a few good wholesome root veggies and the liquid ratio is yours to choose depending on how thick you like your soup
- 150g Puy lentils
- 50g Pearl Barley
- 2 onions, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
- 2 Celery Stalks, diced
- 1 tbsp Bouillon
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 3 Carrots, diced
- 1 Parsnip, diced
- 4 slices Smoked Bacon, diced
- 4 Potatoes diced (500g)
- 1 tin of Borlotti beans drained and rinsed
- Glug of Olive Oil or Rapeseed
- Start with soaking the lentils and barley, give them a thorough wash in plenty of running cold water, then soak in the 500ml of water
- Glug of oil in the pan, heat through and then add the bacon
- Dice the onions, and add to the pan
- When the onions start to soften add the crushed garlic, the celery, and turn over, soften for a minute or so
- Add the root veg, and turn over on low heat for 8 minutes or so
- Add the bouillon (I do this dry) and the mixed herbs…..stir through.
- Pour over the Puy lentils, plus barley and the 500ml water
- Top up with water from the kettle (1.5 litre). Cover the veg by 4-5 cm.
- Simmer gently for 15 mins
- Add in the pasta and simmer as per the length of time on the packet. About 6 mins for the Farfalline
- Judge the water level as you stir through to stop things sticking to the bottom
- I briefly pulsed a hand blender to thicken a little…..but it doesn’t really need it
- Feel free to season to taste with salt/ground pepper
Beef Curry Granny Style
Slow cook Beef curry, with apple and raisins
Sunday and a blue sky chilly day, a chance to walk with the sun in our faces. We made it over the top of Blackford Hill and along the Hermitage to the Lodge for a cheeky scone. At the back of my mind the desire to try Granny’s curry which would definitely fit the bill of a warming wintry slow cook allowing us to get on with watching a Boys film from the recorded Christmas TV.
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: Large casserole dish hob and oven friendly
Oven: 180°c or 350°f
- 650g Stewing Beef diced
- Rapeseed/Olive Oil
- 2 large onions diced
- 1 cooking apple, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 25g plain flour
- 1 (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes
- 500ml Water
- 1 tbsp chutney
- 50g sultanas or raisins
- Juice of a lemon
- Heat a glug of olive oil in the casserole dish on a high heat
- Sear 1/2 or 1/3 of the beef until brown on each side
- Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in bowl to add back in later
- Add another glug of oil if needed and repeat until all the beef is seared
- Once all the beef is seared, add another glug and soften the onion and apple
- Add the curry powder, stir through and cook for a minute or so
- Add the flour and again stir through and cook for a minute or so
- Add in the tomatoes and stir through
- Add the dried fruit, the beef with it’s juices, the lemon juice and the water, stirring through
- Then place in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
Post-Recipe Notes: Granny loved to add raisins to everything. This a glossy, sweet and sour curry the apple disappears and there is a hidden back note to the dish. Curry powder feels cheatsy, quick and easy to rustle this up before banging in the oven.
Granny's Lemon Crusty Cake, an infusion of citrus to a classic sponge
Pleased to find a classic easy cake recipe in Granny’s recipe file, hoping that one of the boys would help me as I start the journey of working through the box. We’ll see though, there is another kind of box (starts with x) calling on this grey January day.
An infusion of summer is introduced in this cake, a reminder to me of the lemons growing freely and openly in Sorrento……just the ticket for afternoon tea.
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: Grease and line a 22cm x 22cm square cake tin
- 175g Butter
- 125g Caster Sugar
- 3 Eggs – beaten
- 175g Self-raising flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Lemons – the zest of
- 2 Lemons – the juice from the zested lemons
- 125g Caster Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180c
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy
- Whisk in the beaten eggs a little at a time
- Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and the zest
- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20 minutes, the cake should shrink a little from the sides and spring back lightly when touched
- For the infusion, mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar to a runny consistency
- Pour/Brush over the cake while still hot in the tin, and leave to cool
Post-Recipe Notes: I’ve been given the back story to this recipe, the recipe card mentions Verbier 88…which brought back tales of a family sharing a chalet on a skiing holiday. This recipe came from the customary afternoon tea that that gets served up on return from the slopes. This a take away recipe from the Chalet Girl.
This comes with a high sugar warning……..I didn’t quite manage the crunch, I was too scared to go for the full amount on the topping! Just goes to show…..make your own cake so you know what goes into your food! Aside from that…..it’s delicious.