Experiment 13 - Toad in the hole
You know what makes toad in the hole better? Besides a huge dollop of mash and lashings of gravy?
Wrapping the sausages in bacon.
when i was cooking this, my boyfriend came home. Knowing what i was making for dinner and seeing the empty bacon packet, he questioned what it was for. I told him.
“YOU DO LOVE ME!” He exclaimed, and i got a huge hug.
He lives by the mantra that everything in life is better with bacon. And in this instance, he is not wrong.
Experiment 11 - Butternut Squash, Spinach and Horseradish bake
This was… weird. The recipe was weird and it led to weirdness.
Basically you cook off the cream with garlic in a heavy wide pan and then slice the Butternut squash and cook it in the sauce. Nightmare! If I was supposed to be like, boiling the squash in the cream, there was no way near enough cream for that. And what it did besides sloshing cream around my oven top and being a NIGHTMARE to stop from burning (you try moving slices of squash around a large pan without getting sauce flipped out the side). It was so weird. Anyway, what the point of that was I don’t know because the squash definitely didn’t cook. Then you remove the squash and layer it in a oven dish with the steamed and drained spinach, mix the creamed horseradish in with the leftover garlic cream, pour it all over the bake and then cook it in the oven.
It seemed completely stupid because the first stage was so unnecessary, you should have just made the sauce and put the whole thing in the oven for an hour, or boiled/roasted the squash first
The most annoying thing was that it seemed like half of it cooked, and half of it didn’t. I had a bowl full with a stack of crusty white bread slices and scoffed mine, but my fella barely had 5 mouthfuls of his before he put it aside and just ate bread dipped in the sauce. I stabbed a fork in his and it was like… raw squash. And that’s after I left it in the oven 20m longer than the suggested time because it didn’t seem cooked enough
So… I’d make it again, but as a side dish for roast beef. And I’d boil the squash first. And cube it rather than slice it.
Experiment 9 - Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce
Okay, 2 big tips here.
1) Never try to buy gorgonzola in Basingstoke. It doesn’t exist.
2) If you can’t find Gorgonzola, don’t use Dolcelatte as a replacement.
So, I couldn’t find gorgonzola. I was eyeing up the other cheeses, and decided “hey, I really like dolcelatte, it’s a blue cheese and it’d melt into a sauce really easily! Lets do that!”
Not so smart.
It was essentially your standard cheese sauce – a béchamel sauce with a load of cheese in it – with gnocchi thrown in and a good chunk of black pepper. But man, dolcelatte is TOO RICH. It was okay for like… 1/3 of a plate. Then it started getting heavy, and I had to add a lot of salt. And in the final 3rd I had to team it with a lot of ciabatta. But I did eat it all!
But kids, learn from my mistakes.
Experiment 8 - Sweet Potato and Butterbean Stew
I’m trying really, really hard to cut down on red meat. Which is a nightmare, because i LOVE red meat. Limiting myself to 1 red meat meal per week is a bit of a nightmare, so i’m trying to increase my vegetarian cooking skills - which is kind of hard, when 5 years ago the only vegetable your boyfriend would eat is potatoes.
This was an absolute winner. SO DELICIOUS!
450g sweet potatoes
2 tbsp maple syrrup
1tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
400g can peeled whole plum tomatoes, chopped
Splash of balsamic vinegar
400g can butterbeans
Handful of spinach leaves
150ml greek yoghurt
Firstly you boil a pan of salted water and add two tablespoons of maple syrup. This salty mapelly mix is what you cook the sweet potatoes in. Weird right? Anyway, you dice or slice your potatoes and cook them in this mix for 10m and then drain and set aside. You then cook off finely chopped red onion with some cumin seeds in a bit of olive oil for 5 m, add some chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and cook for like 10m, then you add butterbeans and spinach and cook for another 5m, then you “top with” (I just mixed in) the sweet potatoes and top with greek yoghurt. That then goes under the grill till golden (although I just went till hot because golden seemed to be taking FOREVER and not even starting to happen)
And man, YUM! So tasty. And so relatively easy. Because pretty much everything is on a low heat, you can just walk away from it and amble back to stir when you feel like it. Apart from the grilling bit. I was paranoid of burning it all then.
The recipe used was from Cook Express by Heather Whinney
Experiment 7 - Cheese Sables
Who doesnt love cheese? Even lactose intolerant people love cheese. Actually, one of my brothers doesnt like cheese, but only if its solid. Melted he can deal with.
I personally could eat cheese for every meal. Yum yum yum.
So i decided rather than just doing sweet things in my christmas kitchen this year, i’d try and do some savouries. So why not cheese?
And you know what? These are AMAZING. I had to wrap two batches into gift bags so my fella and i didnt eat them all in one sitting. Yum yum yum.
If you have a good food processor, these are SUPER easy to make.
175g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1st cumin seeds (it said lightly crushed, but i didnt bother because it was going in the food processor anyway)
150g unsalted butter
75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
75g parmesan cheese, grated
Freshly gound black pepper
Seedy coating (optional)
1 tablespoon milk
Basically… whack the dry ingredients and butter in your food processor. Pulse till its all crumbly and mixed up. Add the cheeses and do it again. I just left it switched on and it became a big dough ball.
Put the dough onto some clingfilm and roll into a log. Seal up the clingfilm, and put the dough in the fridge for 2 hours.
I added the seedy coating so i brushed down the doughw ith milk, and then rolled it in the seasame seeds.
after that, slice into 5mm thick disks, pop on a baking papwr coated tray, and into a 180 degree centigrade oven for 12-15m.
Easy peasy! And Yum, Yuuuuuuuuuuuum.
The recipe i used was from Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg
Experiment 6 - Lebkuchen
Christmas Test Kitchen is go!
So this was pretty easy.
3 tablespoons clear honey
4 tablespoons black treacle
50g unsalted butter
75g dark muscavado sugar
225g self raising flour
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
3tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
zest of half an orange
1 large egg
You put the honey, treacle, sugar and butter in a saucepan and slowly melt it all together.
All the dry ingredients get sifted into a nice big bowl and mixed up. When the hot gooey mix is all melted together and smooth, you make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the egg and the melted syruppy stuff with a wooden spoon. Insta Dough!
Once completed, you cover it with cling film pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I left mine overnight which made it really easy to cut shapes from. Next morning, i heated the oven up to 180 degrees centigrade and rolled the dough on a floured surface to about 1cm thick, cut out a load of stars with my cookie cutters and put them on a baking paper lined tray. 15m in the oven and they were perfect, and my house smelled like Christmas.
The book i have suggests a glaze made of 175g icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon… but i decided to dunk mine in dark chocolate. Melted 200g of dark chocolate over a water bath and then dunked each cooled biscuit in for a good coating, before putting them on a wire rack to cool.
And i tell you… yummy! I think maybe i’ll do circles next time because the points of the stars got a little crunchy, but hey, they’re pretty.
The recipe i used was from Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg