Monday, 3 February 2014

A Cooking Frenzy!

This weekend I seem to have taken part in some sort of cooking frenzy!  I have to admit that sometimes I find weekends a little difficult.  Louis is either playing with friends, at his drama group or generally amusing himself in his bedroom - he's a great kid like that, very happy in his own company.  My husband works physically hard all week and likes to relax and chill at the weekend, sometimes cooking curries or just putting his feet up and reading.  Which leaves me at a bit of a loose end!  Don't get me wrong - we always take the dog out together and some weekends are chock full of outings, but others can be rather ... dull.  Especially when it RAINS all weekend (ahem!).

So this is how I ended up making my first Lemon Meringue Pie.

Which was flipping gorgeous.  Recipe from Mary Berry.  Very tart lemony base which you just cannot get in a bought pie.  Yum!

After that I decided to go for a homemade pizza - perfect Saturday fare.  I made my own dough, which I have never managed to master before.  However, judging by the speed at which it went down, I think I cracked it this time.  Recipe was again from Mary Berry.

Spurred on by the compliments (!) I went the whole hog and produced this on Sunday

Looks good, doesn't it?  Again, it was the first time I managed to get the ruddy dough to rise (don't know why it's been such a problem), although it did need double the time it said it would (i.e. 2.5 hours in a warm place) to rise.  The smell after 10 minutes in the oven was well worth the effort - there is nothing quite like the smell of warm bread, is there?  I'd love to say it tasted glorious - well, the warm crust that I just had to immediately cut off and spread with butter DID taste good.  But once it had cooled it revealed a very heavy dough inside.  Positively brick like.  Not good.  Edible, but not great.  This was a Farmhouse loaf though, where you rub in an ounce of butter to the flour before adding the liquid, so I think my next attempt (for I am not to be deterred!) will be a straight forward white loaf. 

And after our lovely roast chicken yesterday, today I turned the leftovers into a stew thanks to Save With Jamie (Oliver).  I would highly recommend this book - he basically shows you how to get the best cut of meat for roasting on a Sunday and then gives you a whole host of scrummy ways to use the leftovers. 

I didn't realise how easy it is to make your own chicken stock.  Just chuck the carcass into a pan, cover with water and boil for half an hour!  That's it!  And the taste is superb, just full of flavour when used in this stew (or any other recipe for that matter).  Jamie gives 4 different ways of serving this stew (pie, with dumplings, in a lasagne and with mash) and with 300g of leftover chicken you get 6 generous portions.  I will freeze half of this for another day and scoff the rest for tea :-)

Low and behold, as if this wasn't enough for one day, I decided to whip up a very quick swiss roll for pud.  I had no unsalted butter, so couldn't make a sponge cake, but had the brainwave for a swiss roll, as it only uses eggs, sugar and four.  So simple to make and only 10 minutes in the oven.  But then - arghhh - no jam left!  So out came the Nutella (hurrah), it has saved my cakes before.  I need more practise at swiss rolls as it sticks to the paper EVERY time.  Not the greaseproof paper it was baked on - that peels off easily - but the greaseproof paper that you need to turn it out onto.  Sticks like glue to that!  Think next time I will try spreading the paper with caster sugar and see if that helps, although I seem to remember trying that once and as soon as the sponge plopped onto it, the caster sugar scattered all over the worktop!!  There must be a knack, surely?

By the way, my tank top is finished, just need to take a decent picture in something other than dull grey daylight.  I can report that it does indeed look good with the pleated skirt - hurrah.  Finger's crossed for some sunshine at some point in the next millennium ...

Here is a stupid upside down preview, which I cannot get to go the right way up!  Can you tell that I'm new to blogging (or just technically inept)?

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