Thursday, 29 March 2012

Can anyone on Blogger help?

I know that I'm showing my Techno idiocy off to its highest degree here, but no matter!
I want to add my other blog to my profile, but I don't understand the instructions given by Blogger. It says "You can access these settings by clicking on the drop-down menu next to the gray Post List icon, going to Settings | Basic, and clicking Edit under the Privacy section.

But I don't know where to look to find the "grey Post List icon" so I'm rather stymied! I know this is simply a case of me being stupid, but can anyone help?!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Next Week's Food

 This painting is Manet's "Still Life with Bag & Garlic"...It reminds me that I'm going shopping tomorrow, so I mustn't forget my "Bags for Life"! I'm hoping that this week's shop won't be too expensive, as I have quite a lot of the stuff in the house already.

In the last post I caught up with what we had last week (too much of those things that aren't so good for us!) and here is next week's planned food.
SUNDAY: Steak, chips and salad. Nothing special, but delicious nonetheless. I've got a sweet potato hanging around so I might make mixed potato spicy wedges instead. Quick and easy. As the oven will be on, I may be tempted to make some flapjacks, or something similar.
MONDAY: Duck & vegetable stirfry, with noodles. It won't really be "chinesey" because I've got the sauce from Saturday to use up, but I'll throw everything together in the wok to warm it through. Quick and simple.
How can I eat these delicious sweet little things?!
TUESDAY: Rigatoni sausage bake I bought some sausages last week, which were on "Special Offer" in the Reduced Chilled Area. So, being thrifty, I grabbed them. It wasn't until I got to the checkout that I realised they weren't actually that cheap! They weren't terribly expensive, but not quite the bargain I'd imagined!!! Never mind, I'll get two meals from them (dinner plus sausage sandwich for lunch)
WEDNESDAY: Tomato and Bacon Gnocchi: this is near enough the recipe. This is from the magazine I'm working my way through. It's another quick and easy recipe. I'm feeling lazy this week, after pulling out the stops for Mum!
So far this week dinners have been pretty much as expected. For today's meal I bought quenelles rather than gnocchi, and I made the sauce up as I went along, so it was bacony, courgetty, slightly spicy and tomatoey all at once. The quenelles weren't too bad - much to my surprise!
THURSDAY: Back to River Cottage we go, with Curried Bubble & Squeak (scroll down for the recipe) with a poached egg on top. Although this is designed to use up leftovers, I'm using it because I'm buying some of the ingredients for other meals.
I liked this a lot, although I think my curry powder wasn't very strong. Although I put in the reccommended dose for 4 people, I didn't feel that it had much curry flavour about it. I'm also rubbish at poaching eggs!!. 
FRIDAY: We're having another hearty River Cottage soup tonight. This one is Chickpea, Chard and Porcini Soup - I can't find a recipe online, but I'm sure you can work out what to do from this list of ingredients. I may serve this with the delicious Leek-and-cheese toastie from Mr F-W as well. I liked the soup very much; there wasn't a great depth of flavour, but to be fair, I didn't soak the mushrooms for quite as long as directed, nor did I simmer the soup for the prescribed 45 minutes. We were too hungry! Leek-&-cheese toastie wasn't as good as last time, but I tweaked the receipe: I shall tweak it back again!

catching up...

Mum was here this week so I didn't really plan meals so well. I knew we'd be going out - at least once - so I just "had things in mind".

We did have meals that were a little more elaborate than just potatoes! (The picture is Van Gogh's "The Potato Eaters", in case you're not sure!) This is what we had last week:
SUNDAY evening: Spanish Pork. I've cooked this before - basically pork and chorizo and peppers and olives in tomato sauce. Mum arrived in time for lunch (quiche) and we went for a stroll in the afternoon.
MONDAY: Aubergine Parmigiano (RC recipe adapted, to include mushrooms) It all went a bit sloppy but it was delicious.
TUESDAY: We'd planned for Alison's mum and dad to come for a meal, with Cathy, but as A's dad wasn't well, they decided not to come. So it was me, Mr F-D , F-D Mum and Cathy. We had a Mr F-W salad , about which I was (yet again!) dubious, but which was very good! I followed it with a chicken dish which I've cooked before, but can't find an online recipe for...It's very simple and easy. Recipe (ish) at the end. Cathy made a chocolate,pear and almond tart. Myam, myam!
                                                         SOURCE - includes recipe

WEDNESDAY Out at the local restaurant, pictured at the end of last post. I had a large plate of charcuterie, followed by stuffed quail. Very nice. We invited Richard to join us - he seems in good health after his ordeal, in fine form, and, for reasons best known to himself, quite keen to go back to Zambia...!!!
THURSDAY: We had Mr F-W's Mushroom Risoniotto  (I've linked to this recipe before)
FRIDAY We went out to this restaurant Jacques Coeur which is about 30 minutes drive from us. It was very good - it's not got a Michelin star, but has a "bib" which is the step just before a Michelin star. Mr FD and I had the Menu Jacques Coeur, which was foie gras, followed by the signature dish:
Now, I know that just looks like a pie, but, oh! What a pie! half a boned Poulet de Bresse, with morilles in a cream sauce. The waitress warned us that it was big, but actually it wasn't really too big. Just nearly too big!!!
The one slightly odd thing was that we had to choose our puddings before we'd started, which certainly isn't very common. We didn't know how full we'd be, or what kind of pudding we would fancy, but I chose what I guessed might be the lightest and fruitiest - "orange soup". It was perfect: juicy, slightly tart oranges, in a light alcoholic "soup", with a speculoos biscuit and a dab of sorbet. Certainly a restaurant we'd go to again (although Mum was dissappointed with her kidneys: she felt they were rather too "toothsome")
SATURDAY: Mum was a little sad that she'd not had her favourite Magret de Canard so I cooked duck for her. We had fish soup (bought),
with croutons, cheese and rouile, and then duck. I made a sauce from a couple of spoonfuls of chutney, a sautéed shallot, some stock, and a glug of red wine. I roasted potatoes in duck fat, and we had carrots, broccoli and roast vegetables too. I bought three little éclairs and three strawberry "verrines" from the local patisserie. We ate very well.

RECIPE (sort of)
Brown an appropriate number of chicken legs in oil. Remove. Sweat an onion (or two), add garlic, sliced red pepper, and sliced chorizo. Cook for a couple of minutes more. Add paprika (or cayenne pepper) and dried thyme. Then (for 4 people) add basmati rice measured up to 8 fl. oz in a measuring jug. Stir so the rice is covered with the mix. Add 75 ml white wine and 175 ml of chicken stock. Put chicken on top, nestle wedges of orange and black olives among the chicken. Cook at 180° for about 1 hour, until the rice has soaked all the liquid. Keep an eye on it, and add more stock if it looks sticky and the chicken's not yet cooked.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Tarte Tatin à la Fat Dormouse

This is an adaptation of what was a really complicated recipe. You don't need an oven proof frying pan, but what you do need is a baking tin/roasting tray that can safely go on the direct heat of the hob and in the oven. I guess you could make the caramel in a pan and then pour it into a baking tray of some type. Your puff pastry sheet needs to fit snugly into this final oven proof tin. I used one of these:
 but slightly less shiny! In fact, mine's non-stick, which may be why the Tarte Tatin wasn't the disaster I thought it might be.

You'll need:
110g caster sugar
40g butter
several apples
ready made puff pastry.

My apples were a mix of sweet Ariane apples, which were going bad (so I cut off the bad bits and peeled the rest) and wrinkly apples from last year (no idea of the breed) which were impossible to peel, due to their wrinkliness. So I didn't.

Pre heat oven to about 180°C
Core the apples and cut into thick slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Melt the sugar in the baking tin/ovenproof frying pan over a low heat until bubbling. I stirred it a bit before vaguely remembering hearing on The Great British BakeOff that you shouldn't stir sugar that you're caramelising. So I stopped, and just shifted the tin from side to side, until the sugar was going brown and bubbly.
Remove from the heat and add about half the butter. Stir gently. 
Then working fast but carefully (that caramel's hot, you know!) lay the apple onto the caramel base. This will be the top of your tatin, so try to do it prettily.
Cut the remaining butter into smallish chunks, and tuck the pieces of the butter among the apple slices.
Lay the puff pastry on top, tucking the edges down the sides.
Put in oven for about 35 minutes - or until the pastry looks cooked.
Then turn out onto a large plate - put the plate over the top of the baking tin, and with one swift sure movement, turn the whole thing over so that the tarte tatin lands on the plate. As I found out to my cost, the plate should be quite a bit bigger than your baking tin, as the caramelly juices are now very liquid and liable to spill out over the kitchen surfaces, the floor, the oven gloves that you're wearing because everything's hot and your clothes if you're not careful.

I rarely take photos of the food I make - mainly because I find eating it more interesting than photographing it! - but here we have a photo of half the Tarte Tatin from yesterday. Not the prettily laid out apples and the plate that is evidently just the right size for the tarte, thus contributing to the Great Caramel Flood Disaster of the night before.

So there you are! Much easier than the complicated recipe that I found, which made it sound like it was a dessert that took hours of careful faffing with different amounts of sugar and butter.

Finally I want to share an email that I received from the author of the French blog I directed you to re: Les Restos de Coeur. His (her?) English is amusingly bad, but I'm not mocking him (her?) at all. I'm laughing at the title by which he (she?) addressed me. As you know, my moniker is Fat Dormouse, and so I was addressed as:

Goodnight Fat
I love it! "Good night Fat"!!!! Big grin.

Goodnight Fat
 I can not put a comment on your blog so I will leave you in email ...
Thank you for putting the link to my blog, I'm glad you're interested and thank you to contribute to good deeds french!
 My English is even more terrible than your French
See you soon on our blogs


Sunday, 11 March 2012

More River Cottage Adventures

So, having posted about the Restos de Coeur, I'm now posting about our food for this week...If you haven't read my earlier post, please do so...It's important!

Pleasant surprises last week included the oat-and-chickpea dumplings and the lettuce tart. I was dubious about both but they were very nice. I'd recommend both to anyone - although the dumplings probably need (in my opinion) a slightly spicy sauce.

                                                 "Mr FD is really enjoying his soup today"

I'm a bit late writing this, as yesterday (Saturday) - when I would usually write my blog post - I went for a walk with Alison, up the hill to see Cathy. As it was very up, we went slowly, in both directions. Of course, the visit also included numerous cups of tea, so I didn't have time to post yesterday. But, on
SATURDAY we had Kale Speltetto with goat's cheese (except mine was "Savoy Cabbage risotto with another kind of cheese" as Mr F-D won't touch goat's cheese, I couldn't find -well, I didn't look, TBH - spelt, and I had Savoy cabbage) It was surprisingly good. I agree with Mr F-D though who said some toasted pine nuts would have added to the experience.

SUNDAY: Cathy's coming for supper tonight, so I'm abandoning Mr F-W and the "Eat In" magazine, and I'm making my "Spicy Salmon in Coconut milky Thai type Curry With Leeks, Noodles and Beansprouts thingy" (Do you think it needs a catchier title?!) I may make onion bhajis for starters (now I'm so good at them!) and a Tarte Tatin (still got those apples!) for pudding.
                                           "Here's your bloody salmon! Now can I go and rest?!"
I was convinced my Tarte Tatin was going to be a disaster...I didn't have an oven-proof frying pan (which appeared to be essential), the recipe I used was really confusing, the sugary-caramel didn't do what I thought it should, the whole sugary-buttery caramel thing looked as though it was going to stick to the brioche mould that I was using, and never come out again. But I carried on - and it came out perfectly! The tarte tatin was delicious (although I cooked it too early and so the pastry had gone a bit soggy) and it's a return recipe. I'll post my very-much-adapted recipe on another post in case you should want to try it.
MONDAY: Cambodian Wedding Day dip which I'm serving hot with rice. It's a nutty/mushroomy/spicy sauce.  Probably served with some broccoli and garlic as well.

TUESDAY: Bacon and Mushroom stuffed aubergine - basically a baked aubergine shell, flesh removed and mashed with cooked bacon, onion and mushroom. I've only bought 1 aubergine though. I'm thinking I may serve this with pasta and a dollop of pesto. (Note to self: buy pesto)

I did a swop round and we had the Aubergine thingy on Monday and the dip on Tuesday. This was because Mr FD was out for lunch and only wanted something light on Tuesday, so it made sense to have the dip. I made houmous too (as I'd found a source of tahini in France there was much rejoicing and making of houmous!) so Mr D had a bit of bread and dips, while I had soup, & more bread and dips. The Cambodian Wedding dip was good - I took it along on Wednesday and everyone nummed over it; I wasn't that keen, as I found it rather oily, but it had a nice flavour. I think it would work better as a sauce, slightly less reduced than as a dip, with rice.
WEDNESDAY We're out for dinner at Alison and Gérome's. I'm taking pudding. I'm buying something in a nice patisserie in Roanne as I'm working. Not very thrifty - but very delicious!
I bought a cranberry and almond tart and 8 chocolate eclairs. I looked at a patisserie window, but at 19€ for a small cake (lovely though it looked!) I decided to go to Carrefour for the tart (7€90) and Lidl for the eclairs (6€ for 8) Much better value, I think!
THURSDAY: Spiced Spinach and Potatoes served with a poached egg, I think. I'll probably use frozen spinach - because I have it - but other than that, I'll follow the recipe.
                                                                        Source - as recipe
We were out for lunch with friends (see here for more details) we finished the old vegetable soup that I'd made at the beginning of the week for dinner. I've decided to have Thursday's planned meal tonight (Friday), and make an onion quiche to have for Sunday lunch, as Mum arrives earlier than I thought, and will want some kind of lunch as well. 
FRIDAY: Upside Down Onion Tart with baked potato (or possibly, now I've read the recipe Hasselback potatoes) and salad.

Mum's coming to stay soon - she's arriving next Sunday - so we may not be eating in too often, as we all like going to restaurants! We've already planned to go to La Poste with Alison's family and her parents, who are coming over as well. Mum doesn't like travelling by herself, so, as my friend Alison's parents also live in Liverpool, Mum travels over with them when they come - and A's dad does all the booking etc which means Mum doesn't need to worry. It's a great plan.
                                                                   SOURCE 1   SOURCE 2

We all like La Poste - the cheese trolley and dessert chariot are, as they say, "to die for". Like this...only better!!!

Restos du Coeur

This post is about Les Restos du Coeur - I don't know a huge amount about this, but it is an organisation that helps homeless people by providing food. There is every year a promotion with Carrefour (supermarket chain) and Danone (yoghurts plus much, much more now) providing meals for the Restos - I noticed too that our Lidl was also collecting as well.
This is relevant because for everyone that publicises this promotion on their blog, and sends a link to the site, Carrefour/Danone will provide a further 10 free meals. So please, even if you don't understand all the Frenchy Frenchness on the site, go along, grab one of the banners, write a post like this and send it to the RdC site.
In fact here is a blogpost (in French) which is very interesting - and, I think!!! - says that if 3 bloggers blog because of this post, extra meals are given. People like Floss, whose French is better than mine, may be able to help there.

So, it's only a little gesture, but it's easy to do! If you're a follower with a blog, please publicise this promotion and hopefully we'll be able to feed more people who need it.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Food for this week (I've got fed up of clever "River Cottage" titles!)

Last week's highlights included - well, nothing, really. Everything was perfectly edible, but nothing really stood out. Except maybe the cheese-and-onion pasties, which were delicious hot from the oven. I've not felt very enthusiastic about anything this week - a combination of early mornings and low level back pain has made me a bit "Meh"-ish this week. I've not really fancied cooking.

 And what pissed me right off was my Adventures With the Chicken Breast. I bought a chicken breast (to make Coronation Chicken pasties this weekend) in Grand Frais - a fresh produce shop. It's alwas got a great selection of fruit and veg and good looking meat too. As I wasn't buying much meat, I thought I'd get my large, free range chicken breast there. So I asked for one at the meat counter, the butcher wrapped it and gave it to me.
 When I got to the checkout I realised that this chicken had been fed caviare and champagne all its life and had slept on satin sheets: at least, I hope so, judging by the price.Still, I managed to justify it, thinking, "Well, it's a big chicken breast; I'll be able to get 4 pasties and a couple of sandwich fillers of Coronation chicken as well. That's only ---€ per meal!"
So, on Thursday evening, as I was roasting the squash to go with the quinoa, I thought "Be thrifty! Use the electricity to cook the chicken breast too! Ready to make the pasties! Yay for thriftiness!" I took the squash out to mix with the leeks and quinoa, and left the chicken breast in the oven to catch the last vestiges of heat. And I forgot about it. There it stayed, from 7.00 pm on Thursday evening, through the night, and all through Friday - which happened to be the warmest day of the year so far, reaching 15°C here. Now, my food hygiene isn't great, but I would be very dubious about eating a cooked chicken breast that has been out of the fridge for 24 hours. So, instead of us getting 6 meals from this expensive chicken breast, the Very Bad Kittens and Beautiful Pomme are going to get a Veritable Feast tonight! I'll have to try to remember to photograph them chowing down opn Free Range Chicken breast! Grrrrrr! Yay for Thriftiness, my left foot! More like Yay for Senior Moments!!!

BUT we did go to the cinema on Thursday! Our local little cinema (about the size of a multiplex "room") was showing "The Descendants" in VO (version originale), so we went along.
It was quite empty until 5 minutes before it was due to start when a coachload of Lycéens arrived (aged between 16 and 18). They learned a lot of English swear words, I think (although they well have already known them!) - although I noticed they weren't all translated in the subtitles! Most of them were fine, although there was a group of young men two or three rows behind us who talked quietly throughout. I tried turning round and glaring, I tried saying "Chut!" but they took no notice. We gave them a Paddington hard stare when we left, but they were too busy rolling up their nicotine fix to notice.
Next week, they're showing "La Dame du Fer", so I think we'll go to see that too.

Today (Saturday) I've just made spicy (though Mr FD says it's not very spicy) parsnip and coconut soup for lunch. I used a jar of curry sauce that I've been hoarding and not using (due to its rather violent yellow colour. And the fact it's a French brand and I don't think the French can "do" curry) to add to the soup. I've kept some back to use in my pasties, which, instead of being jam packed with tasty chicken, will have a meagre filling of turkey escalope (just over 1€ at the Farm shop) and a lot of sweet potato! Oh well!

What else are we having this week? Lunches will be: pasties (x2), scone based pizza tomorrow, paté, maybe Coronation Turkey (if I can s-t-r-e-t-c-h the escalope), and cheese. There may also be some dhal left over which I can have: I'm not sure Mr FD would like cold dhal. However, the soup will help to fill Mr FD up: I'll only have it today, so it should do several lunches for him.

SATURDAY: We're having Lentil dhal from the River Cottage book, with Onion bhajis (home made! First time ever! Bought chickpea flour at Grand Frais!) and rice. I'm a bit nervous about the onion bhajis as I rarely "deep" fry (and in fact it's more like shallow fry in a wok) but I thought I'd be brave and give it a go. Mr F-W suggests cauliflower bhajis, but cauliflower is another vegetable I can take or leave. And, quite frankly, I'd rather leave it! I'm using red onions though, rather than the Spring onions suggested in the linked recipe.
  Due to my computer playing silly Bs I didn't finish writing this post yesterday (it's now Sunday) so I can tell you how the dhal and bhajis went. The dhal was okay; we had it with hunks of bread. The bhajis were divine!! They were SO easy to make and served with a yoghurt dip as well as mango chutney, I'm afraid I ate them like a little, snuffly pig! I'd made them with a mixture of onion and grated courgette, and I couldn't get enough of them. I think I need to find a way of draining them better, as they were still a bit too greasy, but oh!  
SUNDAY: Pork & Mushroom Casserole which I've made before (see post from 14th January). We'll have this with the not-used cabbage from the aborted stir fry last week (Good grief! That sounds most unpleasant!!!) and a jacket potato. (or maybe rice) As this is going in the oven, I'll probably cook the pasties at the same time, and maybe some flapjack too.
Eek! I'm very behind with my commenting - it's now next Sunday, and I've not yet comented on this Sunday. Sorry! Pork and mushroom casserole was as good as last time.
MONDAY: Noddy's Beany Banger Bake...this is one of the recipes from "Eat In" magazine, where we are meant to believe that Noddy Holder cooks many meals with sausages. Well, I did find this photo of Sir Nod on t'Internet

so maybe it's not so incredible, after all. And here is the recipe! I'm adapting it slightly - using merguez sausages, and only kidney beans, and no treacle - but it should be basically the same. I might put a topping of sliced potatoes on, to compensate for the reduced starchiness from the lack of beans.
This was fine - a sort of sausage chilli. Nothing special, but certainly enjoyable.
 TUESDAY: Now this really is a recipe I'm dubious about - and it's not from Mr F-W, this time! I've taken it from the magazine, and it is Oat and Chickpea dumplings I'm not sure exactly why I'm dubious, but there you go! Served with green beans and a tomato sauce, it seems to be very healthy and good for us! I note that these can be served cold with a dip...That might work for a packed lunch on Thursday for me. I'll think on that.
                                   SOURCE as recipe                                                                                                                             
These were a very pleasant surprise! I jazzed up the tomato sauce (which, in the recipe, was basically a carton of passata) with courgette, onion and pepper, plus a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. I'll be happy to make these again - possibly when MiL comes to stay.
WEDNESDAY we're having Mr F-W's Pasta with spring greens, chilli and garlic. We've had this before but I'm sure we'll enjoy it again. Plenty of garlic and chilli, I think! I'll probably use fresh pasta to make it super quick, as Wednesday is my "drinkies night" with friend Alison
Doidn't fancy this in the end, so I made a bacony, tomatoey sauce with grated courgette to thicken it. 
THURSDAY: For tonights dinner I'm making Lettuce, spring onion and cheese tart I've linked to this lady before, as she had a "River Cottage Week", so tried some of the recipes I'm using. She certainly seemed to like this, so hopefully it won't be a Hugh disappointment. I'll serve this with a jacket potato and coleslaw, and we'll have the leftovers for Saturday lunch with beans.

Oh! The Lettuce tart was surprisingly good! With coleslaw and a wrinkly jacket potato this was very delicious. I'd recommend this recipe. I didn't keep to Mr F-W's quantities: two eggs, less cream, more milk and a splosh of caincaillote cheese sauce made a good custard. It set perfectly well. 
FRIDAY: For Friday, we'll have Mr F-W's Three-root Boulangère (this comes with a Dire Warning about the celeriac) with garlic mushrooms (basically mushrooms baked with butter and garlic, then topped with grated cheese.) I'd like to use big field mushrooms, but you don't often see these for sale - not even in Grand Frais! I suppose the idea is that you go out and forage for them yourselves!

This was also fine - nothing special, but enjoyable. I made the garlic mushrooms in a sauce of cream and the last splosh of caincaillote sauce. This was a good idea as the boulangere needed something with it. It wouldn't have been much of a meal by itself.

 I hope that, as usual, you may find something interesting - or it may encourage you to try one of the recipes. I'm not sure how much healthier we are through this regime...Mr F-W does still like his cream etc. and though I use lower fat alternatives, it still isn't exactly "diet" food! Mr FD is looking a bit larger-than-usual at the moment, although he'll slim down through the summer with his cycling...and I'm rather too sedentary for my own good. My bad back is a reason (not an excuse) a the moment, but I must be careful it doesn't become an excuse (not a reason) in the future! With a couple more sessions at the Kiné, I should see some improvement, but today it feels very stiff and sore.