Here we are again!

Here we are, back at River Cottage, for this week's menus and planned food. I am finding that this is an interesting project, trying new foods and recipes. However, I am finding that I'm missing some of the old favourites too: maybe I've been a bit ruthless. Perhaps it has been a bit too much "out with the old, in with the new!" but equally, I have been challenged out of my comfort zone, to use old ingredients in different ways, or to use new ingredients. Maybe in March I'll have a week of going back to old familiar recipes, just because I can!

                                      Entitled: She's Not Been Using River Cottage Veg Every Day!

I think the husband of the lady pictured above might get a bit upset if she started using the River Cottage Veg Every Day - it looks as though he is very fond of his meat! I can't identify everything there, but there's certainly some kind of poultry, a rack of something like lamb or maybe beef, plus something more rabbity looking at the back. However, I do have to report that Mr FD has been very good - very little moaning about less meat. And some positive comments about my cooking in general, so I'm happy about that!

SATURDAY: Porotos Granados. This is basically a bean and squash soup - here  is the River Cottage recipe. It's one of the reasons I changed my mind about the soup I'd planned for today. We had Butternut squash soup instead of the planned Leek-and-bean soup - too many beans might have been dangerous!!! The Porotos Granados looks as though it will be tasty.
Edited (on Sunday)to add: the Porotos Granadas may have looked as though it was going to be tasty, but the best comments Mr FD and I could come up with were "bland" and "meh". I may have overcooked the squash, as it was a bit tasteless, and maybe I should have got rid of my paprika in the Great Spice Purge, but this was unimpressive at best. Not something to be making again. There were both leftovers in the pan (as I'd cooked a lot) and leftovers on the plate (because we were bored with it.) I'll use the leftovers in the pan to make a soup - with some tomato passata and a bit of chilli, and maybe some more vegetables andbeans it should make an acceptable soup at least!
SUNDAY: Slow cooked chicken in red wine sauce, roast potatoes and green beans. I haven't used my slow cooker very much - often I find the resulting sauces/gravies a bit thin and watery for my taste, but I'm willing to persevere. This recipe is from the "Eat In" magazine (but looking on the Schwartz site, to find the ingredients of the mix, I see it's a direct copy from there). It uses a Schwartz "Chicken In Red Wine" sachet, which I certainly haven't got, and I'm sure that will include a thickening agent. But I guess otherwise it's a mixture of herbs and dehydrated red wine (as the recipe doesn't include red wine in the ingredients!) I'll busk on the ingredients, using red wine (d'oh!), herbs and maybe some cornflour.
(Edited on Sunday:) Forgot to get the chicken out of the freezer. So it'll be fast cooker chicken casserole! But as I need to put the oven on to roast the potatoes, I might as well use all the heat and make the casserole in the oven. I may make a cake does a plain sponge with blackberries sound? I have a recipe for rhubarb-and-raspberry cake (absolutely gorgeous!) I could try it with blackberries instead. It may go a slightly grey colour, but it might work...
(Oh dear. Mr FD has got back from his afternoon walk and I think he may get cross. I haven't looked after the fire and I think it's gone out. Oops. To be honest, I've been so cosy in my study -it's -10° (at least) and I'm wrapped up in my Slanket with the oil heater going! - that I didn't think about it. Sorry!) (He's just got in, and while he wasn't exactly cross, he did say "Did you not think to look after the fire?" I just pointed silently to the previous few sentences! He smiled and kissed me. Then he went to watch the rugby.)
Casserole was fine and dandy - lots of wine, mushrooms, herbs, served with green beans, roast potatioes and roast parsnips. I made a blackberry cake too. The blackberries sank to the bottom, but it still tastes good!
MONDAY: Spinach spoufflé Here is another blogger's take on the Spoufflé (no, it's not a typo. It's called spoufflé because of...the spinach? the pasta? I'm not sure...) It looks as though this will be tasty. Probably to be served with a green salad, as it will be quite filling. I'll be using frozen spinach though as I couldn't find fresh leaves in Carrefour - and forgot to look for them when I went to Grand Frais for the squash.
E(on Wednesday) toAdd: We didn't have this in the end. I was teaching until 5.00, and didn't get to leave ILS (my language school) (well, not "my" language school, but the language school where I work) until 5.30, so I didn't get home until almost 6.30. I really didn't want to be messing about with pans of bechamel sauce, so I postponed the Spoufflé until next Saturday, when I'll have more time, and went for: Mushroom and ham puffs (which were in the freezer) with baked potatoes and baked beans. I tarted up the baked potatoes by scooping out the cooked flesh, mixing it with half a ball of mozzarella that I had in the fridge, plus a bit of grated beaufort cheese. Then I put it back in the skins and grilled to go brown. I also cooked a few more mushrooms.
TUESDAY: Leek risotto with chestnuts. Now, I'm not a great fan of chestnuts - don't like the texture at all.It's too much like liver for me. - but I said I'd try everything except goats' cheese and beetroot, so here we are. I wouldn't usually link to the Daily Mail but here is Mr F-W himself's recipe. As printed in the Book. So it makes sense to direct you there. I didn't buy real chestnuts, I'm afraid. Mine are in a jar, rather than vacuum packed, but I wasn't going to faff about with roasting and peeling something I don't really like!
E(on Wed) to add: This was very, very pleasant! I liked the chestnuts, and didn't find the texture off-putting, possibly because they were well crumbled, and fried in a bit of butter. The risotto was very nice too - admittedly, a fairly bog standard risotto, but none the worse for that. I think I would like a bit of parmesan in it, though, and will add it next time. Now though, I have 150g of chestnuts, which, according to the jar, must be used within 72 hours. That was over 12 hours ago, so I only have 60 hours to go....Lordy, what CAN I make?!
WEDNESDAY: I'm not really sure what's happening. We've been invited up to Alison and Gérôme's for drinks (usually she comes here) because it's A's birthday the next day. She said "It'll be quite substantial"so I'm guessing the snacks will be a bit more than just crisps. I'm taking up some hummus . I'm not using Mr F-W here, but the tried and tested Nigel Slater's recipe. this isn't his, but it's close enough. The only Nigel Slater hummus recipe I could find on line was one with broad beans...Not one that appeals much. I'm glad that's not in Mr F-W's Book (though Carrot hummus is. I'm not too sure about that, although I have read rave reviews of it elsewhere, so I will have to try it.). Anyway, I won't plan anything for tonight, but I'll have a jar of pasta sauce and I can throw together a quick meal should we require it.
I ate at my friends' house - Mr FD didn't go, because he wasn't feeling well, but I had roast pork, broccoli and roast potatoes. And a bit too much wine!
THURSDAY:Beef and black bean sauce stir fry with rice. When I reorganised my spice tray (old washing up drainer) last week, I discovered (a) a lot of out of date spices and (b) a sachet of black bean stir fry sauce brought over by Steve and Cathy last year. So I threw away the spices and plan to use the sachet of sauce today. With green peppers and onions and maybe some beansprouts (tinned, which are by far the easiest to find here in France) this should be a good spicy dish. Oooh, look, the photo I inserted has gone to the side. I rather like that! Even though it should be at the side of Thursday's piece rather than Friday's. Oh well!
This was nice, but not as spicy as I'd hoped. 

FRIDAY: I'm going to try a warm salad tonight: Mr F-W's Warm Salad of mushrooms and roasted squash  Now, I'm not a great blue cheese fan - in fact I don't like it - and this recipe uses blue cheese. He does mention the possibility of using a firm ewe's cheese - which I know I can get at Lidl - so I may make it with blue for Mr FD and with the ewe's cheese for me. I don't think that's cheating, do you? Because this is "only" a salad - although it is quite substantial - I'll make a pudding tonight. There's blackberries in the freezer and apples going brown in the veggie rack(see the week before last's post) so I think blackberry-and-apple crumble is called for. Mr FD will be pleased: he's a pudding man.
Do you need a recipe for this? I wouldn't think so...but let me know if you do!
Oh! Oh! That salad was fantastic! I made big crunchy croutons too, which gave an added texture. Mr FD feels the blue cheese that I used wasn't quite full flavoured enough (It was a "Bresse Bleu" type.) but it was full enough flavoured for a gal who doesn't like blue cheese. I'll be making it again. It was great.

And so, there is next week's culinary delights. If you like this, please comment. I sometimes feel like I'm talking to myself here!
 Sorry, I forgot to say...if you're here for the "Impossibilities Challenge" my report on that is on my other blog ( but I hope you enjoyed your visit to this blog too!


  1. Hi Mouse! You are NOT talking to yourself. I like to read your posts! VERY much!
    Yummy stuff here, always!

  2. Mouse, your menu for the week looks quite appetizing. I wish I can as organized with my meal plan then perhaps I wouldn't have to eat the same thing repeatedly. :-( The Beef & black bean sauce with stir fry rice looks delicious though. Thanks for sharing.


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