beef fried rice

using up: the last of the beef rib, a couple of very dried up flat mushrooms

We love egg fried rice, but are rarely organised enough to have cold cooked rice available. However, last night we did a double lot to accompany our south indian cabbage (a meal we love), so we were poised!

Pete slivered some fresh garlic, and finely chopped some garlic. I chopped a shallot, some spring onions, a yellow pepper. I put the mushrooms in some boiling water to revive them, then they got chopped as well, and the cooked beef was cut into strips.

Stirfried all the veg in some groundnut oil in the wok, added the beef and a good glug of shoyu, tipped in the rice. Stirred it all around till the rice was hot, and served.

We’d eaten about three quarters of it before we remembered that it was supposed to have *egg* in it … but it was delicious nonetheless!

four meat soup

This week’s soup is a real amalgam.

I marmalised in the food processor: one leek, one parsnip, two sticks of celery, two carrots. Into the slow cooker they went.

In the freezer were two bags of chicken and peapod stock, to make ris e bisi, but we decided to sacrifice them to the soup. So into the slow cooker that went. And two ladle’s worth of stock from the fruit gammon I cooked at the weekend (it was salty and very spicy, so any more would probably have been not very good).

Pete was getting some cold beef from the weekend’s pot roast ready for supper, so we hurled in the bones too. And finally, about a pint of last week’s soup, which had the lamb massaman bones in it.

Left it cooking overnight, and it smells rather good.

fruity gammon

using up: half a gammon, some manky apples

Continuing in the mission to make space in the freezers, Pete found a small rib of beef, and half a large gammon in the outside one yesterday. The rib is for today’s dinner (yum), and I did this with the gammon:

Put it in the slow cooker skin side down, discovering – with some amazement – that the lid would actually go on. Cut a jaffa orange into quarters, squeezed the juice over the exposed meat, and put the squished segments in the pot. Cut up a wizened apple similarly, and hurled it in. Added half a cinnamon stick, three star anise, and three slices of fresh ginger.

Cooked it on low for about nine hours, I guess, then left it in the water overnight. Will shortly skin it and paint it with a glaze of mustard and maple syrup, then roast it off in the oven (which currently contains a reactive fruit cake, using up some fresh cranberries and dried prunes).

Rib roast experiment details to follow.

cats on crack

When Ron and Henry were discharged from the vets on Tuesday, we were given some bags of Royal Canin bikkit for “young neutered males up to 7 years”. They do bikkit for senior cat, baby cat, middle aged cat – for all I know, they do bikkit for cats with no neck who do toad impressions … a limited market, given that our Lilith is probably the only one, but still.

We left the bag in the car, but Pete brought it in on Friday when he returned from their check up (they were pronounced fine, thankyouverymuch for asking), and I thought I’d bung one of these small packets down for them to try.

I can only surmise this biscuit is covered with distilled essence of catnip; there was a most unseemly shoving around the bowl, with Mustrum doing his level best to fend off two completely crazed kittens who wanted more More MORE. This small packet disappeared really rather rapidly, and I shall be wary of putting out any more, less an expensive addiction ensues.

gingery chickpeas

More experimentation with the slow cooker, this. I started on Wednesday evening (i.e. 2 days before we ate this!), by putting some chickpeas (probably about 2.5 mugs full) to soak in cold water overnight. We do always have tins in the larder, but I like to used dried where possible, as they are so much cheaper.

On Thursday morning, I rinsed them and put them in the slow cooker for about 9 hours on low, then turned it off, then on Friday morning I took them out, rinsed and drained them and put them back in.

Then I chopped a large onion, and cooked it in some groundnut oil until it was just starting to brown. While they were cooking, I whizzed up garlic, fresh ginger, coriander seeds and a little bit of water into a paste. Added a couple of teaspoons of cumin seeds to the onion and cooked for a minute or two, then added the gingery paste and fried it all off for a couple of minutes.

Then in went a tin of tomatoes and a slug of balsamic vinegar (I was sort of following a recipe, vaguely, from my new veggie slow cooker book). Brought it all to the boil and put it in the slow cooker with the chickpeas.

It didn’t smell quite right – the balsamic was too … sweet, possibly, so I chucked in the juice of a lemon and hoped for the best. They had about 9 hours again, and we consumed them as an accompaniment to a tub of chicken dansak from the freezer, and some basmati rice. And the balsamic taste was all gone by then!

This also provided three tubs for the freezer, which would do nicely with some pitta bread for lunch, or as accompaniment for further Indian feasts. We cook/eat a lot of Indian food here, as you may gather.

soup mix

A load of manky old veg – spuds, a soft pepper, a wrinkly courgette and some soft carrots. Oh, and some very sad celery. Only the leek was pristine and fresh.

Diced small by hand (because I felt like it – often I don’t), hurled in the slow cooker with some barley, seasoning, water and a secret ingredient … the bone from the lamb massaman I’d made the day before. Despite there being not one single shred of meat on that bone, it gave the soup a subtle heat.

I cooked the soup for about 18 hours, then whizzed it a bit with the stick blender to stop it being just veg in hot water. Fab, and just enough left now to be the starter for *next* week.

lamb massaman

We’re trying to clear out the freezer in the shed, so we can replace it with another, smaller one. And there was a shoulder of lamb, so I thought I’d give this a go.

for the massaman sauce:
4 dried chillis, soaked in boiling water for about 20 minutes
1 tsp each cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, and 2 tsp black peppercorns, dry fried then ground
1 onion and about 12 cloves of garlic, chopped, and fried off (I used the remnant of the lamb frying oil, and a dollop of sesame oil to top it off)
a knob of fresh ginger
juice of a lime
some kaffir lime leaves
some bay leaves
half a cinnamon stick
some sea salt
a tin of coconut milk (except I discovered I didn’t have any, so used coconut powder).

other ingredients:
about 2lbs or so of lamb
1 aubergine, 2 sweet potatoes (peeled), 1 butternut squash (peeled and deseeded) all diced
fish sauce

The slow cooker recipes I found said 8-9 hours, which I didn’t have, so I cut some corners and pre-cooked some stuff, and cooked it for seven hours – it would have been ok at six hours, I think.

I started dicing the meat off the shoulder of lamb, but it was a tedious job, and I gave up part way through, figuring it would be much easier when it was cooked 🙂 The lamb was then browned in some groundnut oil, including the large bit with the bone in, then put in the slow cooker, which I turned on to keep the meat warm.

All the ingredients for the massaman went into the food processor and were comprehensively whizzed. Then, as part of the speeding up process, I put the paste into the frying pan I’d used for lamb and onions, fried it off for a minute or so, and added the coconut milk. Brought it up to the boil and put it in the slow cooker.

I simmered the aubergine, sweet potato and butternut squash for about 8 minutes to get them started, and put them in. Then a good squirt of honey, and some fish sauce into the pot.

We then had to put up with the smell all day, which wasn’t easy. It was sublime.

I don’t know why some people say that slow cooking doesn’t give you the flavour – I’ve never made any sort of curry that flavoured the meat so well. And there’s at least two tubs’ worth for the freezer too.

We ate it with brown basmati rice (which I still don’t really like but needs eating up) and some potatoes fried up with Indian spices).

the risotto that wasn't

using up: smoked trout, a bulb of fennel

We like risotto; sometimes I make it in the oven, and sometimes I stand over the pot, ladling in stock. Whatever, I know my 5oz of rice to 1 pint of liquid works.

Today, I thought I’d try the slow cooker. I did a bit of Googling, and came up with a couple of ideas.

So, chopped the fennel and a red onion, put it in the slow cooker on high with a little olive oil, left it for an hour and stirred, left it for another hour and stirred again. OK so far.

Added 5 oz of arborio, and 1 pint of veg stock (made with the ever wonderful Marigold bouillon). Bit of seasoning, knob of butter. Sorted. Turned down to low, left for an hour, stirred it, all was well.

Came down half an hour later, zapped a piece of hot smoked trout with some butter in the microwave for 90 seconds, flaked it, opened the slow cooker and … overcooked. Ho hum.

Still, not a disaster – added the fish, lobbed in some double cream before serving, and hey presto, fennel and smoked trout kedgeree 🙂

I don’t know whether I cooked it too long, or there was insufficient liquid, or whether I should have put the stock in cold (there was hot water in the kettle so I used it). But it was still very nice, and the cats enjoyed the fish skin!