It’s been a while…

….. since I actually wrote anything, but feel I want to revise my blog. However, it will take a different form from what was the original idea.

Life has been extremely busy as my hubby went back to work and time for cooking something from another part of the world was put on the back burner. We still eat a variety of different foods, but often, in the week, we cook something quick. Weekends can be a little more extravagant, but time, due to unforeseen family circumstances, has made it difficult to research and write.

Therefore I have decided that I will research the food we are eating and try and find interesting facts out and also share our recipes…Maybe they will be different from what you are used to or how you cook the recipe.

Tonight we are having : – Toad In The Hole

I know it is a popular and everyone probably knows how to make it…Our recipe is slightly different to the norm and I will share that with you shortly.

Toad in the Hole is a traditional English dish and can also be known as “Sausage Toad”. It normally comprises of Sausages and Yorkshire Pudding Batter usually served with onion gravy and vegetables. Historically, this yummy dinner has also been prepared using other meats, which would probably have been something such as lamb’s kidney and maybe rump steak.

Here in Britain we thrive on curiously named dishes, such as: “spotted dick”, “bubble and squeak”, “Laver bread” – which isn’t bread, it’s seaweed, “Bedfordshire Clanger” and  “stargazey pie”.

It is quoted that:-

Toad in the hole, a homely dish of sausages cooked in batter that has perplexed etymologists almost since it first started appearing on our tables over 200 years ago.

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The name of this fabulous British dish has baffled many, but Mrs Beeton described this dish as a

homely but savoury dish

Mrs Beeton

Sausages are a fairly modern ingredient and quite a way into the 20th century many recipes talk about different kinds of meat being used in the dish, but not sausages. Today it would only be made with sausages and not other meats at all.

In 1787 we see the first mention of this popular dish by its name within “A Provincial Glossary” by Captain Francis Grose. It was named “Toad in a Hole” but he goes on to describe the dish as “meat boiled in a crust”. Research has shown and suggested that he may just be inexperienced in cooking as no one else talks or mentions anywhere boiling or a crust.

In a letter to a friend some ten years later the novelist Fanny Burney quoted a conversation that she recently had had with Princess Augusta, who said…..

she never saw the dish without feeling angry about “putting a noble sirloin of beef into a poor paltry batter-pudding”.

Around 1861 when Mrs Beeton published her well known book “Book of Household Management” created a recipe that was close to a steak and kidney pudding, although she used batter which would create something similar to that of Toad in a Hole. It would appear that in years gone passed any bit of meat could be used and varied greatly.

Further reading on this can be found here

Far from popular belief, there is no record of the dish ever being baked with toads substituting the meat.

Emma Lavelle

 

Emma goes onto say that there maybe a story that could go on to rationalise the derivation of the name, but then says that this is probably nothing more than a “Local Legend”.   It as been said that our fabulous, comfort food dish commences in Northumberland, in a town called Alnmouth.

It is apparently a story of the local golf course, that was suppose to be swamped with “Natterjack” toads.

toad-frog-urmonster-65945.jpegIt is said that during a golf tournament, a golfer putted his ball only for it to jump back out of the hole, before, what can only be described as, an angry toad reared its head from the hole, that it had been sleeping in. In the hotel where the golfers were staying relayed this story back and the chef at the hotel invented a dish to look like this hilarious  incident, baking sausages in a Yorkshire pudding batter which would look like toads peeking their heads out of the golf holes – and hence Toad-in-the-Hole was derived.

There is probably a lot more out there about  this dish, but I think for now you have ingested enough..

Make it yourself and share your pictures and recipes – if you would like me to research a favourite dish of yours then drop me a line…

My recipe/version of this well loved dish can be found in my recipes

Enjoy….

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Until the next time and thank you for your continued support…

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It’s been a while, but….

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…..here we go with our Thai meal this evening

I know I haven’t posted in a while, family, health etc but tonight I am back with this very very tasty Thai meal.

Hubby wanted Thai tonight and we needed something we hadn’t had before… Easy I hear  you say, but no….We love food and cook lots, as you know, so we tried to find something we hadn’t had before.

Yes we did find something, very delicious actually….

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Oh my word!!! These were delicious, dead easy to make and so, so , so tasty  …

Follow the above recipe for an amazing Thai experience, that is different from your regular take away or local restaurant…

AMAZEBALLS……

Enjoy and let me know what you think….

Thank you all for your support x

Another little venture…

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I would just like to share with you all, my other little venture. Please take a look at my website and share with you family and friends. I would really appreciate this.

https://quirkynapkinsandgifts.com/

I have already  had orders with some more pending. All my products are handmade and very affordable.

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A little bit of spring has come to “Whitstabubble” today…

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What a beautiful Palm Sunday – absolutely gorgeous and I hope it is as gorgeous where you are?

All my windows are open and the air is warm. It was so, so lovely to be woken up by people mowing their lawns, birds singing and the sun peaking through the gap in the bedroom curtains.

It would have been a crying shame to have stayed in doors today, so time to fling open the bifold’s, clean the BBQ and celebrate that spring has arrived here, even if it is only for a short period of time (as the forecast is set to drop by 10 degrees tomorrow)

 

My garden is beginning to bloom. The blossom on the fig and apple trees is beginning to come into full bloom.

BBQ alight, couple of salads prepared…One inspired by James Martin, who I have had the pleasure of meeting when appearing on Ready Steady Cook – cauliflower cous cous salad –  A fantastic man and a brilliant cook, recipe can be found on line, if not listed in my recipes.       The other a typical Greek salad, my middle son’s favourite.

When we BBQ we are all guilty, I think, of preparing too many side dishes. Although they are needed, too many flavours can spoil the meat we have cooked.

Lamb chops  and fresh Tuna fillets sourced locally …

 

New potatoes served with butter and mint leaves from the garden, what could be more beautiful on this gorgeous day?

I hope you have all had a great spring day and have enjoyed some fabulous food with you family and friends.

Until the next time – have fun and enjoy the food you cook and share it with us all…

Love life and food…

See you soon xxx

Inspired, again, by the Med….

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….and of course Rick Stein and his fish, although this is not a recipe from Rick, but his love for fish is the inspiration and I was surprised on how the pre packed fish tasted and when I say pre packed, I don’t mean covered in breadcrumbs or frozen.

Being a busy working mother, Thursday nights are not conducive to cooking a family meal. Ian, my hubby has band practice, so we normally grab what we can.          Tonight as many other nights I fancied fish, but being delayed at the “day job” wanted something simple, easy and tasty. Don’t get me wrong in the past we have cooked fish, filleted fish and served fish, but tonight I wanted easy.  I am not normally a pre packed sort of person. All my boys have had home cooked food always, but sometimes 6 days out of 7 its easier after a busy day to pick up something quick and good quality.

I travelled home  and visited our local supermarket and found that they had Seabass fillets with lemongrass and chilli butter and also Sea bream fillets with red pesto butter… Worth a try? Absolutely!!

These pieces of fish just melt in your mouth and are so delicious, I could eat them day after day.  I have cooked loads of fish and Rick has certainly taught me a lot – his books are fab, and the TV programmes, but for ease tonight this touched the spot and would recommend. Served with Mediterranean influences, cous cous, mixed bean salad and quinoa, lemongrass and ginger salad…Yum, yum, yum…

Just thought I would share this and sometimes convenience food ( if that is the right word)  is good and not always bad. This fish is full of omega 3, very low in sugars and low in fat, saturates and salt…

Give them a try and let me know what you think

Till the next time 🙂

Inspired by Rick Stein and….

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…his travels around India.

Its been a while since I blogged or even travelled round the world with our cooking. Truth is, we haven’t had the time. Life has been busy with work for both of us. Ill health took its toll on me, but today we feel refreshed and inspired so we are cooking from Rick Stein’s India

The recipes that we are cooking can all be found in the book. I appreciate not all have the book so I am sure you could find his recipes on line

Over the years of being together with Ian we have cooked lots of different curries and have also cooked a variation of the one we are having today – Chicken and Rosewater Biryani. I have found a link on the web here so no excuses for not trying it!

We absolutely love Indian food and one day we will get to travel there and experience what we see when watching programmes like Rick’s. Our bucket list…

Rick Stein’s books are likeable in so many ways. Not only are the recipes easy to follow but the accompanied tale or yarn from where he picked up the  from and how he loved watching it being cooked.

Rick loves trying food from anyone who is willing to cook for him and this could be at a dinner party (not sure I could cook for him – but would give it a whirl – well hubby would!) a restaurant or just a simple street food pop up. The books, and with no exception Rick Stein’s India book, is like reading a story and when you have finished one dish you need to go on reading the next and the next.

Ian and I love a good curry and watching the series (twice , I believe)and reading this book we see endless possibilities.  So I ask you, my hubby and anyone who can respond – What is a good curry?

For me – personally it is the beautiful flavours, the aromas, the spices cooking in another room, whilst I am writing this…Home cooked Indian food makes me feel like we travelled to the part of the world where the curry is from, and although I haven’t been yet, feel like I have experienced just a little bit of what we can expect.

‘Whenever I hear the word curry, I’m filled with a longing for spicy hot food with the fragrance of cumin, cloves and cinnamon. I see deep red colours from lots of Kashmiri chilli’s, tinged with a suggestion of yellow from turmeric. I think of the tandoor oven and slightly scorched naan shining with ghee and garlic. A bowl of dark dal, a green chutney of coriander and mint and a plate with a few sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced onions. When Indians talk of food, they talk about their life. To understand this country you need to understand curry.’ – Rick Stein

To me there is nothing more lovely than the smell/aroma of the cooking from the kitchen when it just smells this good. I can imagine what Rick must have thought as he watched this being prepared and then creating the recipe for us…Not “us”, but all  of us!

I am working in my sewing room and can smell the aromas seeping from the kitchen. The combination of cardamon, coriander, garam massala and other beautiful spices infused into the oil and then the chicken

Along with this beautiful dish we decided we would also have aloo gobi – potato and cauliflower curry, again seen and read about in Ricks book. We love curries and this is so simple to make, and aloo Gobi is a quick and easy vegetable side-dish, which can also be a main dish. This recipe can be found in the book or on the web. There is even enough for me to take to the day job tomorrow on top of the Biryani that is left and also as a main dish for a gorgeous lunch at the day job maybe the day after tomorrow – Yum yum yum.

Having only once tried to make Naan bread – a total “disaaaaaaarster darling”, never again have we tried.                    So reading in Rick’s book and seeing on the programme how easy chapatis were to make. I had a go…     and    …because my fingers were stiff with the dough, sticky and they shouldn’t have been and I was beginning to think this was going to be a “disaaaaaarster darling” too.      Maybe I used too much ghee, but when added a little more flour the mixture came together – phew.          I was very impressed how they cooked, exactly as Rick had said, but never having them before, had to assume mine were fabulous…

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Yes not round but delicious all the same…

The whole meal was delicious and very tasty. Although Rick thinks it is easy to do and the next time would be easier my hubby thinks it wasn’t the easiest thing to do…I only prepared the aloo gobi and chapati, so cannot comment.

Rick Stein will always inspire me, will always make me want to try different foods and will always make me want to cook – and this is from a girl who  34 years ago left home and couldn’t even boil an egg…

‘Till the next time my friends – have a great evening

Just a little touch of what I fancy…

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Good morning readers. I hope you slept well and you had something delicious for your super last evening. We only had good old fish and chips, not from the chip shop and it was lovely and so easy to do as hubby was in late after training at work.

Although we haven’t been dining around the world for a while as I said in a previous blog we have prepared some delicious food and visited a couple or more countries in the process, some visited before, but this time nothing complicated or time consuming.

When we go to France amongst many other things Moules et frites is one of our favourite lunch time treats or supper if not wanting too much and with the weather we have been having recently we did just that.

Moules-frites or Moules et frites

actually originates from Belgium.Quite possibly the dish was originally produced by putting together mussels, a popular and cheap foodstuff eaten around the Flemish coast, and  potatoes,fried,  which were  eaten  all around the country in the winter months when no fish or other food was available.

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However, it is indeed very popular in France and I believe the French have adopted it as there own, or that is how it seems. The title itself is French and means exactly what it says Moules – mussels and Frites – fries. In Belgium, some have considered it their national dish, but I am happy wherever it comes from, having never been to Belgium I am happy to eat in France.

Mussels (Moules) can be cooked in various ways and there are various recipes out there to tempt you and I have tried various recipes including blue cheese, tomato and chilli, but for our light supper we opted for the more, what I believe to be, the more traditional way to prepare them in white wine, garlic and cream. There are lots of recipes out there on various sites for you to chose from, but Ian has been cooking moules for years he just does it without thinking and we find it a quick easy supper that can be eaten in the garden with a lovey crusty loaf and  a lovely chilled glass of your favourite white wine, or in my case this time a cranberry based chilled drink- delicious.

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Another thing Ian and I enjoy is a selection of cold meats, olives, bread, ‘tapas bits’ and cheese. Another evening in the summer saw us both not being able to decide what to cook. Our youngest son was safe at Grandmas and it didn’t seem as important to cook a full blown meal, especially with the temperatures we were having.

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New Start…and “Happy Summer”

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Its been a while since I added anything to our blog. My reasons? Situations within our family changed and this has been updated on our “About us” page. We have had illness, on going issues and quite importantly our middle son took his globe back to university!! I did ask if we could use it, but to no avail..I(We) also decided we needed to try and engage more of an audience and wondered how we could ramp up or site and make it more interesting. Any ideas from you our readers would be gratefully received.

We have obviously been eating whilst not writing and we have had some interesting meals. My husband is a far better cook than myself, but I try and have produced many a good meal.  The summer has seen us BBQing quite a lot, but that can get boring when you are eating the same food every time you light your BBQ.

Tell me what you have been cooking on your BBQ’s?                                                                                                    

Have any of you ever tried Seared beef with orange & chilli?   We cooked this a few years ago and lost the recipe, but we found it again on The Good Food website and  it certainly is worth a try – go on give it a go, the summer isn’t over yet.

Seared beef with orange & chilli?

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Seared beef with orange and chilli

 

You will probably need to source the skirt from a butcher and not all butchers carry this cut.   It was so well received we added it to our summer menu a few times for different friends and family. Its really easy and does make a change from burgers and sausages.

However if you have a good butchers in your town or village, like we do in Whitstable, they do produce excellent items for the BBQ, including Ribs and marinated chicken, lamb etc.

 

As you know we live by the sea so fish is always good on the BBQ and we are lucky we can access fresh fish of all description from our local fish market.

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Chile

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IMG_0362Back to south America this evening and to Chile.     Rory s first reaction was

I am not having chilli!!

Non of us are having Chile and I am determined to find something a little different that one would expect to have if you were visiting or even staying with someone who resides there.

Found in South America, Chile is a country that lies on the Pacific Ocean. It is a very narrow strip of land with the Andes to the East, Peru to the North, Argentina to the East and the Drake Passage in the far south.  Territories in to be included in Chile are the wonderful pacific Islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile has also obtained approximately 1,250,000 square Km of Antarctica, but at present this is suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

There is a great mineral wealth in Northern Chile in the dry Atacama Desert and is chiefly copper. The central region is where you can find the main inhabitants and agricultural resources, and the centre for culture and politics which Chile developed in the late 19th century and at this time Northern and Southern regions merged. In Southern Chile we can find an abundance of forests and land used for grazing and rumbling volcanoes and lakes. and the coast line is a tangled warren of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

In the 16th century Spain “conquered and colonised”  Northern and Central Chile, this replaced Inca rule, but they failed to conquer the Mapuche that were populating South central Chile. In the 1830’s, following independence from Spain, Chile developed as a somewhat unwavering established demanding and controlling nation. During the 19th century there was a substantial and weighty economic and regional growth which actually saw an end to the Mapuche resistance in the 1880’s and also gaining its current Northern territory. Today Chile is  one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nation and really not wanting to bore you , more info can be found here

Meat is very important in Chilean cuisine and for many Chileans it is essential ingredient in every dinner or lunch. According to studies, Chilean per capita meat consumption (including poultry, beef and pork) has doubled in the last two decades while seafood consumption has decreased.

The food from Chile primarily branches from a mixture of local/indigenous Chilean Mapuche culture, local sourced ingredients and that of traditional Spanish cooking. Much later on do we see the European influences becoming important. The food culture and recipes from/in Chile are renowned for the mixture of flavours and ingredients which are thanks to the countries varied geography and climate.

Chilean food should not be confused with the spicy dishes common in Mexico. Unlike Mexican meals, the hot chilli is not too frequent in Chile.

I obviously wanted to cook something that we would all eat and enjoy, but also something very traditional and after trawling the net a few sources gave me the same information… Pastel de choclo literally means “corn pie”, but not a pie in our traditional self, more like a cottage pie in looks and from what I can gather has become the national dish of Chile…In 1810 when Chile declared their independence from their original Spanish roots other European influences made their mark and this dish is a mix of native and European influences alike. Commonly known as

Cocina Criolla Chilean or Chilean Creole Cuisine

Pastel de Choclo is a brilliant example of this amalgamating corn, which is an indigenous product with a very much European sway, meat filling and means plainly a layered pie, usually made in a deep dish with chopped beef at the bottom prepared “al pino” (a thick stew of minced or chopped beef, chopped onions and seasoning), chicken, olives and a hard-boiled egg, topped with a mixture of ground fresh corn and basil, and baked in the oven.

It looked like an easy dish to prepare so Ian got on with it….

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Kazakhstan

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Heading back West from Samoa we travel 8337 miles to a country in  Central Asia, with a small part to the west of the Ural River, so therefore in Europe, Kazakhstan is the worlds greatest landlocked countries by land mass and it is the  ninth largest country in the whole world. Measuring approximately 2.7 million square km Kazakhstan is larger than all of Western Europe and has become the foremost nation of central Asia economically through the  gas and oil production and the country has a huge mineral resource

Kazakhstan

China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan border the country and connect with the Caspian sea.   The  topography of the country is varied and includes rock canyons, steppe, deltas, snow-capped mountains, flatlands and deserts. The 61st most populated country in the world it is home to approximately 18 million people. However, given its vast land area, its population density is among the lowest. In 1997 the capital was changed from Almaty to its present day Astana.

Until the 13th century Kazakhstan was occupied by nomadic tribes, but Genghis Khan made his mark, living in the country as part of the Mongolian Empire. However, after internal skirmishes, power was returned to the nomads, but by the 16th century, the Kazakh materialised as a distinct group, which divides into three ancestral legs living in specific territories. In the 18th Century the Russians started their advance on the area and by the middle of the 19th century Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. it was only after 1917 and the Russian revolution and the civil war that Kazakhstan was finally recognised and in 1936 became and was considered part of the Soviet Union called Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union Kazakhstan was the last of the republics to declare independence. It works hard to develop its economy, but human rights is very poor.

 Kazakhstan is populated by 131 ethnicities, including Kazakhs (who make up 63 percent of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Uyghurs. Islam is the religion of about 70% of the population, with Christianity practiced by 26%, Kazakhstan officially allows freedom of religion, but religious leaders who oppose the government are suppressed. The Kazakh language is the state language, and Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes, reflecting the long history of Russian dominance in the region.

The cooking/cuisine in Kazakhstan has historically concentrated on mutton and horse meat and also many milk products. Kazakhs were also historically herders, who farmed sheep (fat tailed) camels and horses and were heavily reliant on them for clothing, transportation and of course food. the original nomadic way of life has influenced their cooking techniques and major ingredients. meat in many forms has been the staple and boiling is the traditional way in which Kazakh people cook.

 Kazakhs cared especially for horses which they intended to slaughter—keeping them separate from other animals and feeding them so much that they often became so fat they had difficulty moving.

Horse meat was not on our radar at all for tonight’s supper. Sheep’s meat is also used as common meat and camel meat is also used as a kind of festive meat, but not the main (as camels in Kazakhstan are not as common as horses). Cow’s meat is also a kind of common meat.

Having searched for something to eat that would be easy as it is a school night and Ian is on his own till I walk through the door. Kuyrdak is the national dish of Kazakistan. It is made of lamb and beef meat and is served with spices, herbs and finely chopped onion. .  Here is another recipe for the same dish. Ian decided to use the spices from this dish to enhance the other one – so we will see.IMG_0341.jpg

Warm up the oil into the pan or a Kazan (the traditional kazak pot) add the cubed beef and lamb. I am told in the recipe that the lamb meat will bring taste and juiciness to the dish. fry off the meat until cooked through.

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