Making a splash with River Cottage

So here we are again. Don't the weeks go quickly? I updated last week's post as I went through the weekwith comments about the meals. I think the successes were the root vegetable frittata and the Vegeree, both of which were met with approval from Mr F-D. Oh, and the Pork and Mushroom casserole, which was beautiful, but very rich (unlike me, who is neither of those things!)

I am now adding this after lunch on Saturday. OMGiddy Aunt! The Leek-&-Cheese toasties of Mr F-W were out of this world! I used a "Vieux PavĂ©" cheese - a softish cheese with a rind, reminiscent of Maroilles. It has a stronger flavour than the Cantal I was planning to use. Possibly a tad too strong for me, but not Mr FD. I would say, if you want a substantial lunch (and you're not too bothered about the calories!) try this recipe. It is Fab-U-LUSS darlings!

Less succesful this week was the mushroom curry (well, the rice really, which is nothing to do with the recipe. That was just my impatience getting the better of me!)

Here is this week's art work:

                                  Entitled "What the heck are we going to do with all these apples?"

Actually, that's an apposite question. We were given a lot of windfalls in October/November - I stored them in coolish places, but some are going a bit brown, so I'm thinking I need to do something with them. But, TBH, we're not great apple eaters. I'm really fussy about the type I eat raw-as-fruit (Ariane only, I'm afraid)

so these will need to be cooked in some way. One of my followers, A British Mum, did a guest spot over at OuR KrAzy kitChEn (not sure why there are random capital letters, but there you go!) with a recipe for Apple and Almond cake, which looks a possibility. Otherwise, I may try to be brave enough to try Tarte Tatin, although when a recipe starts with the words "This classic French dessert can be tricky, but it's delicious when it works" it does rather put me off! Equally though, if my friend (who is not the world's greatest cook) can manage it as well as she does, then maybe it can't be that difficult! (especially with bought puff pastry!)

Anyway. On with next week's menus/recipes.
SUNDAY: Chicken & Tomato casserole (from "EatIn " magazine) This includes stuffed olives and looks yummy. I can't find an exact recipe, but this looks quite similar. However my recipe includes tiny Orzo pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan on the chicken. I've just read the recipe that says chicken breasts, but I've bought legs. Never mind! Just cook for a bit longer, I think.
E(on Tuesday) to add: the casserole was very nice with the pasta included in the cooking. We had it with peas. I'd be happy to cook it again.
MONDAY: River Cottage's Refried Beans foldover I've struggled to find a recipe that uses anything like the spices/onion/garlic combo that Mr F-W suggests. However I did find a food blog that talks about the Flatbreads that are included in the recipe and says "I’ve been using these for mexican inspired burrito-type meals. Below with River Cottage Veg Every Day! Refried Beans recipe, which has been one of the least successful things I’ve tried from the book." Oh, well. Nous verrons.
E(on Tuesday) to add:Quite frankly it was an unmitigated disaster! I don't know whether I had the wrong flour - quite possible. I guessed that Mr F-W's "strong white flour" was the same as "farine de pain" but it may not have been. While Mr F-W said that the dough was supposed to be "sticky" I'm not sure it was supposed to be quite the gluey texture it was! It didn't rise and I ended up throwing the whole gloopy mess in the bin, and adding today's planned mince to the refried beans to make something resembling a substantial meal. It looked like vomit by the time I'd finished, but it tasted okay.

TUESDAY: A good, simple beef chilli. We've not had one for ages, and it is something I like. Good and dark and beefy. I'll be making it with beef, but the British Mum recently posted a recipe for a chilli made with chunks of beef, instead of the more common mince. I'll have to try that sometime.
E(on Tuesday) to add: Due to yesterday's fiasco with the refried beans, I have no mince for chilli. This meant I had to buy something else when I went shopping today. I couldn't be arsed thinking creatively, so I've ought some meatballs which we're going to have with a sauce that uses up all the bits from the fridge - peas, mushrooms, one lonely marinaded pepper, half an onion etc. And rice. Or maybe pasta. It depends on whether we're going to Sylvie's tomorrow: we still don't know!

WEDNESDAY: We may be at our friend Sylvie's for dinner: it's not been confirmed yet. If not, I'll do a quick fresh pasta-pesto-and mushrooms dish. The pasta's in the freezer and the pesto is in the jar.
E(on Friday) tA: pasta, pesto and mushrooms - exactly what it says. Except I added some bacon!
THURSDAY: This is a River Cottage recipe, but I am going to cheat and add some sausages (possibly merguez) on the side. Sweet potato and peanut gratin. Here is Mr F-W himself introducing his recipe. We'll have it with a salad as well.
E(on Friday) to add: You can't make sweet potato and peanut gratin if you forget to buy any peanut butter! I made an ordinary gratin, but I mixed sweet potato, ordinary potato, jerusalem artichokes (I love their French name: topinambour! How great is that?! I think it sounds like a medieval musical instrument), and a couple of old carrots, slightly shrivelled mushrooms, sliced onion and garlic. Served with merguez sausages and peasncrots (the Fat Dormouse name for mixed peas and carrots) Mr F-D can't quite believe the amount of meat he's getting fed this week!
FRIDAY: Sweet and sour pork is on the menu for tonight. Taken from my recipe magazine, it sounds nice - and a bit different from the usual stir-fries that I do. The recipe suggests putting a batter on the pork - presumably to make it like the pork balls from a Chinese restaurant. I don't do deep frying, and actually don't think that the batter adds much to the dish as a whole. Stir fried with onions, a couple of peppers (red and green), and pineapple chunks, the pork is mixed with a sauce made of the pineapple juice, ginger, soy, rice wine vinegar and cornflour. I have a suspicion that I may well be throwing in a good glug of the sweet chilli sauce that I found in Lidl this week. 
E(on Saturday)tA: the stirfry was okay -I did find that I had no sesame seed oil and no rice wine vinegar, as I'd thrown them out on Monday. This was because in a fit of I'm-not-sure-what I cleared, cleaned and reorganised our big cupboard in the kitchen. Stuff (old, rusted woks) got taken to the recycling bins, and things more than 2 months past their use-by date got thrown away (rather too many to mention, but the vinegar was almost a year too old and the oil over a year...shades of my mother, I'm afraid. At Christmas, Mr F-D found stuff in her cupboards from last century. And some of her herbs are nothing more than slightly green dust!) So, as I was missing a couple of "oriental" ingredients, the stirfry lacked a bit of flavour. But Mr F-D was delighted to have meat yet again!
SATURDAY: Here we have a link to Courgette & Rice Filo Pie from River Cottage. A little like the Spankopitta, I think, but different enough to be worth the effort. 
A book review site said, of this dish: The revelation was the courgette and rice filo pie, which made me regret the fact that I'd just cleared my courgette glut – and then found a recipe I would willingly make on a regular basis.That sounds like a recommendation! It will probably be served with yet another salad. It seems bizarre to cook more vegetables to go with a vegetable thing...but maybe a fairly thickish ratatouille might go quite well with this.

So there you are! Next week's offerings. A bit meatier than last week, I think, with chicken, mince, sausages AND pork! 4/7 days with meat instead of 3/7. I don't think I'm finding bills much cheaper eating more vegetables, and trying every recipe in the book, but I am enjoying having different things to eat. Yes, there are some things I won't be making again (Macaroni Peas, anyone?!) but there are definitely one or two so far that will make it onto the "Family Favourites" list when this experiment is over. It's really making me use the recipe book, instead of just looking at the pictures and enjoying the writing: I'm quite pleased that I decided to do this, and while we've got a long way to go, but I'm starting to think "Well, I've got a couple of Nigel Slater recipe books that I've not used much...!"

 (I always knew I liked Nigel Slater, and now I know why. He's a cat lover and has three cats.)


  1. Oh my goodness. Now I am starving for something tasty! I'm so amazed at your culinary skill!

  2. What a great weeks worth of delicious food - I think I'm going to have to come over!! thanks for the mention :)
    Mary x (I'm nuts about Nigel Slater too)


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