Strog-a-noff (to the lairy chant of get em off…)

Stroganoff has always seemed to be one of those wonderful, delicious looking and smelling dishes that I’ve never properly eaten.  Why?  Because I don’t like bloody beef or mushrooms, that’s why, and restaurants/online recipes only EVER seem to do those options.  Well, you know what?  I’m a firm believer in, if you don’t like something, change it.

So here it is; chicken and bacon stroganoff.  And perhaps it’s the somewhat (extremely) generous slog of brandy I put in, right now, I think I’m so freaking awesome, I’m popping my collar and wearing my T-Bird jacket.  Zucko ain’t got nothing on me.  So, before I go down a stream of Grease references (and I could, believe me, I could) I’ll get back to the food.

I also watched a bit of Jamie’s 15 minute meals, well move over tomato soup (seriously, tomato soup) here’s one with some class (and booze.  Don’t forget the booze).

All I knew about stroganoff when I started is that the sausage stroganoff my Mum fed us as kids (although very delicious) is not stroganoff (sausages in Campbell’s mushroom soup, basically) and that the basic sauce of a real one was cream and brandy.  What could possibly go wrong?

Ingredients! (this serves one person, because I’m sad and lonely…or, and I quote “old and cheap” as my “friend” told me today. Le sigh – although the 4 probably go hand in hand like some sort of desperate foursome…sorry, where was I?)

1/2 one onion, sliced, not diced.  A James Bond onion, if you will

2 gloves of garlic, crushed

however much rice you usually eat

some cooked chicken

some chopped bacon

a slug of cream

a slug of brandy

black pepper.

And here’s the really difficult bit.  Except it isn’t, it’s embarrassingly easy.  Start cooking your rice.  Now you at least have a timer to work to, STOP SLACKING AT THE BACK THERE! Wooooh, it’s practically Masterchef.

SOFTEN your onions, ADD your garlic (I always do it like that because otherwise I find the garlic burns) THROW IN the bacon, STIR IT for a bit, CHECK the rice.  TAP YOUR FOOT in irritation at your own goddamn efficiency.

Rice nearly done?  GOOD! BUNG the chicken in, SWIRL some cream around, STIR til it’s a bit thicker, SLUG some brandy in, CRACK a load of pepper in, and STIR – DON’T LET THAT CREAM CURDLE.

Rice done?  BANG! DINNER.

I stirred my rice into my sauce as I had too much sauce, but it’s really rather rich, so you might want to leave it on the side.

And there you go.  And painfully simple and quick stroganoff.  Obviously you could use beef or mushrooms, but then you’d just be like the rest of them, wouldn’t you.

P.S, don’t you think I made it sound exciting?  I bet you were on the edge of your seat.  Go on, admit it.

P.P.S, I must stop scoffing my food before photographing it.  Sorry.  I’m not sorry.

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Soup, soup, a tasty soup, soup.

Another post?  Only ONE DAY after the last one?  Ah, madmoiselle, wis zis posting you are really spoiling uz.  Well, I’m feeling generous.  It’s a work from home day and I’m too scared to go outside in case I get lost in the fog.  Or, more to the point, in case I walk and walk and the fog doesn’t ever go away and when I come home, there are ghosts in my house who refuse to leave, and then it turns out that they’re not the ghosts afterall, I AM, AND MY HUSBAND IS NEVER COMING BACK!! Great, now I’ve just actually scared myself, I don’t even have a husband.  Thanks Nicole Kidman.  (That’s a reference to the film The Others, for those I’ve just confused)

Anyway.  Where was I?  Oh yes, soup.  Working from home means I get to knock up a tasty lunch, and this is great.  Warming and autumnal like soupy soup should be, but with an extra little kick of zestyness that makes it darned refreshing.

I took a carrot, the left over swede from yesterday, a medium potato, peeled and chopped them and boiled them in some stock water.

While that was happening I deseeded and dejuiced the tomatoes.  The easiest way to do this was to chop them in half and gouge out the seeds with my fingeers, then squeeze out the water.  Not only is this easy and quick, it’s also hella fun because you can pretend you’re an evil mastermind, gouging eyes out, and as it’s nearly Hallowe’en, it’s not at all creepy and actually rather festive.

Then I chopped up the desecrated eyeballs, I only had 2 victims (tomatoes, and I used 4 tomatoes – I told you, it’s not creepy, it’s festive – alright?) I also used up the left over spring onion from yesterday, just chopped it up and chucked it in (you listening Delia? THAT’S how you just chuck it all in a pot – literally, no faffing or actually preparing, chucking)

Then I heated it all together to soften the tomatoes (I typed that in a comedy American accent, just so you know) and added dried basil and black pepper and finally a splash of orange juice.

Whizz, stir, whizz and it’s done.  Actually, we’ve got a new hand blender and it’s so powerful it nearly spun my arm off, so it was more whizz, swear, whizzzzzzzz, done.

As it’s only just occurred to me to write this post about 2 hours after making the soup, there’s no photo to have.  But I had it with a slice of yesterdays bread all smothered in butter.

SOUP!  Now…about this fog…The Others couldn’t possibly be true, could it?

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Substitute Bread.

I decided to have a go at some bread, so, in the natural of order of things I took to Facebook to see what inspiration there was to be gained.  My good friend (and high five aficionado) Ben came back to me with a Delia recipe for Lancashire Cheese and Celariac Sodabread (excellent, no kneading), and I trust Ben’s judgement, because he is part of the family responsible for the awesome Fisher and Donaldson bakery in Fife, who despite being partially responsible for my dubious nickname of Fudgedonut are also responsible for feeding us all at countless Fence Records events, and ought to be world famous, frankly.

So, I thought a rainy Sunday is probably a good day for baking, except, oh, I only have the requisite flour, eggs and milk.  Balls.  I’m going to have to go to …CHATHAM.  Ugh.  Still, it’s still only lunchtime and the fights don’t usually start til at least 5pm, so I should be ok.  Trundle, trundle, I go.  I try all the little exotic grocers, but as I’m not making giant watermelon bread, I’m shit out of luck there.  Off to Tesco I go, reassuring myself that at least I tried the smaller places, and it’s all for the greater good of delicious food, etc, etc, and actually, more to the point, it’s pissing it down with rain and Tesco is at least inside.

Wow, so biiiiig.  Off to the fruit and veg…spring onion, huzzah! Trundle, trundle.  Round and round I go, veg section, don’t let me down now, you were doing so well, you had spring onions, come on! But nope.  No matter how many times I circle the section, I’m saddened to not see any celariac magically appear.  Right.  Ummmm, swede?  They’ve got that.  Yep, Swede it is.  Now, Lancashire cheese.  We’ve got Chedder, Mild Chedder, Strong Chedder, Mature Chedder, Cheese strings and Babybel.  Wow Chatham, not living up to any stereotypes here, are we?  I manage to find some Gloucester cheese, which I figure is going to work.  And off I go home.  In a taxi, because buses don’t run here on a Sunday and it’s still pissing it down.  (Stop justifying yourself, woman!)

Time to get baking.  Now, this easy recipe is great, but it takes a lot longer than our Delia makes out.  I’ll post the original recipe below and describe the making process here.

First off, when sifting the flour try to use a sifter that has holes larger than a grain of flour.  I’m pretty convinced that mine doesn’t, still, tapping the side of the sifter in time to Two Gallants made for excellent percussion.  I must get in touch with them and let them know.  Sifted flour is lovely though, like some kind of serene other world, where everything is lovely.  Mind you, I suspect that’s what Scarface was thinking when he faceplanted his “sifted flour” and it didn’t end well for him, so I’ll probably not go playing in flour any time soon.  Just in case, you know.

FINALLY everything is sifted, I figured at this stage it would be super quick, Delia tells me “just chuck it all in a bowl, tadaaaaaa!” (I paraphrase).  So, I chop up the spring onions, then think “oh yes, the swede”  Chop, chop, nearly lose a finger peeling it, manage to get it down to the right weight,  now “use the coarse side of a grater to grate it into the bowl”  Yep, cool, I can do that.  Of course, the problem with root vegetables is they’re really quite solid, and the problem with graters is wherever you touch them there is something sharp sticking out and the problem with me is I’m an idiot in general, but also an idiot who somehow (and I have no idea how) managed to cramp up the heel of my left hand last night to the point of minor injury.  So minor that I completely forgot about it until about 5 minutes into grating the swede my hand seized up and the resulting position was, well, let’s just say appropriate for Halloween.  So, after a quick wine break I decided to stop being such a pussy and get on with it.

Turns out I’m a pussy and when I finally finished grating I was weeping and wishing my nephews were here to do that sort of nonsense.  I’m an artist, dammit, I shouldn’t be doing the hard work.

So, after that ordeal was over, and honestly, I feel like a better person for it, I moved on to the cheese.  Now, ladies and gents, I don’t expect you to believe what I’m about to tell you, because I couldn’t believe it until I’d checked 3 times.  I got the block of cheese, cut a block off, put it on the scales and it balanced EXACTLY immediately.  Exactly.  No shaving a bit off, adding a tiny crumble, it was bang on the money.  Totally made up for all the grating nonsense, I can tell you.

Oh, and I didn’t have any cayenne pepper either, so I just threw in a teaspoon of flaked chilli.  Making it up as you go along is the most fun way, afterall.

So, finally, it’s all done, slapped onto a baking tray, moulded into shape and it’s into the oven.

I’ve just got it out and tasted it.  I have no idea how the original was meant to taste, but this is a winner, a great recipe to play around with and add all sort of different flavours too, perfect autumn fare.  Just try and get a child to do the grating for you.

Delia’s version:

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Tuna pasta, yeah, you heard.

I’ve discovered something,  I really have.  Sometimes (most of the time) cooking for one is a bit of a hassle, right?  Right.  (The only good thing is that you always agree with yourself.  Well, mostly, at least).  So, sometimes I make things that are easy and quick to whack in a tub and take to work.

Tonight it was tuna pasta (shut it Foodies, it’s a good substantial nosh).  However, something was wrong.  Munching illegally away – it should have been all saved – I thought, “Damn, woman, yo loosin’ your touch…and your heritage apparently”

Taste, taste, taste, yep, tuna, yep, sweetcorn, yep, mayo, yep, salad cream, but no.  No, too sweet.  No ketchup.  Wait.  Wait…I’ve got it.

Ladies and Gentlemen.


Stir, stir, Ooooooooooh.  That’s hit the spot.

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m off to eat all my tuna/pasta/maya/HORSERADISH before lunch time tomorrow.

It doesn’t make me a bad person.


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Baking with children

*sniff*…*sniff*…oh jesus.  I went away for the summer and forgot to upload any of the baking blog posts.  Shit.  I think they’ve gone off.  *opens fridge*…umm, no, no, they’re all fine.  Just waiting an upload with pictures.  Thank God.  I thought I’d left the cat in here all summer.

Aaaanyway.  Full time work and drinking like Bukowski on the weekends (I swear, the weekends only, ahem) has prevented me from being true to my blog.  Bad blogger.

But today I remembered why baking is fun, and that is because I employed two delightful child slaves.  I say child slaves, they’re my nephews, and they’re hardly slaves because they ignore all the rules and have fun their way.

This new post is a quick one about why I love cooking, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t end up accidently pornographic like the rest.

Today I was looking after my nephews, one of whom goes to “big school” tomorrow.  I figured today would be the last day they would find baking with their Aunt cool.  Bloody big school, robbing us romantics of our children.

We baked a Victoria Sponge (one of my favourite ever things to bake) and some Viannesse Whirls.  I say baked, we threw a bunch of ingredients together, vaguely guided by a recipe and saw what happened.

We started with the good old Viccy Sponge.  Of course the measurements went wrong, they were confused by the olde shoppe style scales and generally thought I was a bit weird as I whizzed around barking orders like Gordon Ramsey in a dress.  But what was really awesome was the stuff I take for granted.  They were worried about getting messy.  First lesson boys, that’s half the fun of it.  If you’ve made a HUGE MESS and everyone loves the final result, you finally get praised for making a sty of the place.  Second lesson, “Lou! You need a spoon for that!” Utter nonsense lads, we’ve got fingers for a reason, they’re evolution’s answer to spoons, get your hands in there, I don’t care if you haven’t washed them.  Lesson 3, “but the recipe says X” Who cares? You’re building a pyramid with the weights anyway, stir it til it looks good and we’ll bake it til it sets!

Inevitably it was a visual disaster.  The second cake for the Viccy sponge baked at an angle, so it was half biscuit half cake.  But that was cool, it meant they got to have biscuit, cake, ice cream and chocolate sauce while the new bottom of the cake was baking.  They couldn’t squeeze the piping tube properly, no drama, I made some rumply stuff and they made all kinds of shapes.  We didn’t have time to dip them in chocolate before their Mum turned up.  But who bloody cares?  They had a ball and got to throw some ingredients around and were proud of what they’d done.

Having nephews rules.  You get to hand them back at the end of the day, a cakey, sugar-high mess and no one can complain.  Especially not Mum who got a shitload of cake and biscuits.

Good luck to Harry starting big school.  I hope they come back for more baking, less computer next time.

Get your hands in there, it’s the only way to fold love into your food.  (And hopefully not puke after that last sentence)

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The humble crumpet.

Apologies for the lack of posts, bacon has done me in.

I’m writing the world’s quickest blog post, but possibly the world’s most important.

Something I’ve long adored is the humble baked bean and cheese sandwich, but it’s troublesome.  It drips bloody everywhere, add salad cream and you’ve got the stuff of slippery, drippy, stainy, delicious nightmares.

I, my darling readers, have found a solution.  Come forward my pretty, my sumptuous, my exotic and alluring crumpet.  No, that’s not a term of endearment, that’s simply a crumpet.

Toast your crumpet (oh-er matron) and slather on butter as usual.  Then comes the magic; where pathetic (in this instance, at least) sliced bread can’t handle the juice, the crumpet drinks it all in, it’s wells of joy filling with the tomato liquid, the beans resting delectably atop.  After this, add the sliced cheese (at this stage, I should admit, I used dairylea slices, the softness keeps the beans in their place) but you can use Chedder or whatever, but don’t forget, keep those beans in their place.

Now grill.  This, my friends, is the midnight snack of Kings.  No mess, but all the glorious, lip smacking baked bean madness is almost more satisfying.

By the way, it’s been suggested that this blog can sometimes read like porn.  I hope and pray you all read it that way.

Next edition in process, I promise, with pictures – I would have taken pictures of this with my shiny new ayephone, but instead I gulped it down.  The crumpet, not the phone.

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