No deconstruction


I’ve had several posts in mind this week but a combination of work, work’s network collapsing (meaning I’ve been fighting the backlog all week) plus half term mean that I haven’t had a chance to sit down until now…and this morning I’ve been preparing food for a party later this afternoon to celebrate my Dad’s 75th Birthday (“Hi Dad, Happy Birthday”).

Normally on a sunday morning I sit down with the Observer and soak up Nigel Slater’s glorious food orientated prose but I’m too traumatised by the Coq au Vin I made at 8am this morning


You probably can’t see from the photo but there is at least 100ml of fat in that jug, which came out of the chicken thighs when they were being browned… from the taste of the finished dish I probably could have done with draining off a bit more, however I’m hoping that I can skim some more off before I serve it, which won’t be until after 1pm.

In the meantime, Nigel has 2 mouth watering recipes involving game birds which since they fly around in thee wild (yay ! Exercise for poultry) are lean and tasty rather than fat and flabby as the chickens whose thighs have ended their days in my wine and onion stew obviously are. So I’m not going to deconstruct the recipes today as actually they look pretty good and healthy as they are…and playing around with them might lead to dry meat which would be a shame.

Also worth checking out in the Observer this sunday is Jay Rayner’s review of Zest I’m sure the food is nice but the review had me giggling into my cornflakes.

Pottering in the kitchen…Fabrice’s Ratatouille


Today, the last day of the year, Husband at work and Spider and I planning on heading to the cinema…but opening the curtains, what a surprise, it’s raining, sheeting down in fact.

So Spider pottered around with christmas presents and I spent a happy hour or so sorting and tidying up the leftovers, throwing stuff out, the usual end of year clearing the decks.

On the stove, gently stewing in its own juices is a pan of Fabrice’s Ratatouille from the first Leon cookbook and let me tell you it’s made the kitchen smell fantastic ! This is not something I would normally make (fresh tomatoes, aubergine and courgettes are not popular with the other members of the household) but it has been something I’ve been dying to make since I bought the book (4 years ago ?) and it has been calling to me from the pages…and sometimes a girl just has to give in !

Most ratatouilles I’ve had in the past have been very heavy on the tomatoes and frankly cooked to a state of bitterness…this one, is perfect, mild, aromatic, a stew of vegetables and, if you go easy on the olive oil, the perfect start to a year of healthy eating…except that I ate rather a lot of bread with it to mop up the fabulous savory juices that oozed out of the vegetables.

5 out of 5…and it makes a change from end of life soup, as all these veg had seen better days.



The plan today was to pick friends up from Heathrow and whisk them back up the motorway to our house and their car and then give them the option of staying overnight.  In case they did want to stay and needed feeding the plan was to make a stew and stick it in the slow cooker. Simple plan ? Yep, and although there are lots of things that can go wrong with a plan it’s always the thing that you don’t anticipate…

it’s not the fact that the braising steak I took out of the freezer turned out to be on the turn. No, that wasn’t a problem, it just gave me an excuse to head over to Lidl and check out the wool sale…and whilst there spotting the hobgoblin special ruby ale for Halloween. Bought a bottle for Husband and a second to pour over the beef and onions…

Nosing through Appetite:Nigel Slater I was inspired to chuck 2 tins of chopped tomatoes in with the beef and ale… I grabbed 2 green and white tins which are Asda’s budget line for tomatoes. It was not until I opened the second tin (and emptied it into the saucepan) that I realised that just like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Asda use the same packaging for their baked beans as they do for their tomatoes…

I cooked it up anyway figuring that the sweet tomato sauce would just vanish into the sauce during cooking. It did and you wouldn’t notice that there were beans in it if someone hadn’t mentioned it (foolishly) in the hearing of Teenager who then said “urgh, beans” in the hearing of Spider, who then decided he didn’t like stew.

Shame really as they’ll just have to like it cos I’ve got a big batch made up and the friends we cooked for decided all they wanted was lots of coffee, a bacon butty and to hit the long road home to Cumbria as soon as possible…

A certain lack of planning

I have a yearning on cold days such as we have seen this week for warm comforting food such as irish stew but due to a serious lack of planning on my part I’m having to make do with liver and bacon casserole (as the only meat in the freezer are the aforementioned liver and bacon, some duck legs, 2 packs of sausages and some mince).


This is not pressing the buttons for me – and won’t give me a chance to road test the slow cooker function (and timer) on my Tefal 4 in 1.


I am not giving up on the irish stew as my personal meteorologist says the cold weather will be back next week when I should be a bit better prepared for testing the timer function.  However to make sure I am more organised I am heading down the  meal planner route using this. I don’t use a recipe for irish stew I just cut it all up chunky and bung it in a pot.


Ps “I” is a really difficult letter to do in a food related alphabet challenge – unless it’s the weather for ice cream