Thursday, 23 January 2014

Culinary Adventures...

Down in Somerset, weather hadn't exactly been on our side for Rich's week off. After spending a good part of the morning searching rainy day activities and days out in the area, we weren't convinced by any of them. Despite the fact we'd spent most of the week just lazing at home, we figured there wasn't any point of going anywhere for the sake of it so Gourmet Friday was created.

It was decided that we'd be adventurous and make a three course meal entirely from scratch. Now cooking together isn't something we'd normally do, mainly because Rich always completely slates my cooking! It's not that I'm bad at it, its that all culinary disasters seem to occur in his presence (mainly because he distracts me, the dog wants to play...etc.). Cue concrete risotto, uncooked brownies (yes, I forgot to turn the oven on!) get the idea. We decided to stick with good British fare, with maybe an exception for the starter (British starter ideas anyone?!): grilled mushrooms with goats cheese to start, chicken, bacon and leek pie with veg for the main and apple crumble and custard for dessert.

After a Sainsbury's haul (in which you can probably spot a few cheats from the off *cough* packet custard and pre-roll pastry *cough*!), we got cracking...
Starter: Grilled mushrooms with goats cheese.
An easy peasy recipe: Portobello mushrooms, two gloves of garlic (finely chopped) divided between them, a sprinkling of parsley, top with goats cheese and half a slice of procuitto ham then drizzle with oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, cover with foil for the first 5 then uncover for 5.

Next time I might forgo the oil and make a garlic butter to go under the cheese...I think it would add a little something.
Simple and tasty!

Main: Chicken, bacon and leek pie with veg 
Time consuming but worth the hard slog, this recipe is from BBC Good Food and we followed it to the letter. A lot of people in the comments had cut out the eggs and cut corners with the chicken but I can say it was truly stunning (if a little pricey) just as stated.

I won't reproduce the recipe but you can view it here.
My cheesy pie art...

If you've got friends or family round for dinner and want to impress with traditional fare, this is a cracker! We soon realised it was a little excessive to make it for just the two of us (it serves 6!) but served a few slices at a party we had the following day - it was a great success! Might make it for my host family in Spain for a special meal!
After boiling the chicken, you get a wonderful stock and that gave Rich the idea of making home-made chicken soup with the remnants of the chicken - it smelled divine!! A great way to be thrifty and make the most out of a meal!

Dessert: Apple crumble and custard.

Absolute English classic! It always reminds me of summers with my Grandma with whom I always used to make apple and blackberry pies and crumbles with berries from the bush in her garden.  With everything going so well (including the crumble filling, which filled the kitchen with sweet apple and cinnamon scents), I had to screw something up didn't I?! 
 The pesky crumble was what did it...
 This is what crumble looks like when you put twice as much butter as you need in to the mixture...
 ...I knew it was wrong as soon as I put my hands in to start crumbling!

 Disaster diverted by doubling up all the ingredients - crumble topping for 12 anyone?!

 It all turned out deliciously in the end...
 Another wonderfully simple recipe: 6 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and diced), 1 cinnamon stick, 250g caster sugar, 200g plain flour, 120g butter.

Pop the apple chunks in to a pan with the cinnamon stick and 3/4 of the sugar and stew on a low heat for around half an hour. Add the rest of the ingredients in to a mixing bowl and rub together with your hands until it looks like breadcrumbs. Cool the apples before topping with the crumble then oven bake at 150 for 30 minutes. Serve warm, add custard, cream or side of your choice and enjoy.


With so many lovely smells wafting around the kitchen, Maxy put on his best wrinkle face hoping we would cave and give him a taste of the days to say he was sorely disappointed. I put your name on the pie Max, what more do you want?!

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