Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Started

Just because I have 'things to do', today woke late. My fault because I went to bed in the wee small hours again (not that wee actually), my mind again on my Indian feast. At least the menu was typed up and has been agreed by the committee.

Now of course am wondering the best way to tackle the cooking. Main problem being shortage of freezer space. I've managed to clear one freezer drawer (well almost) and hope to make more space in our upright today.

Although expecting to feed 50 (hopefully less, but I won't know the final number until next Wednesday), at least with offering two plus curries, this means less of each need be made, this being somewhat easier when it comes to cooking/frying/simmering on a domestic stove.
As well as the curries, also have to make samosas (these being made today and frozen to cook an hour before delivery), and can also make the Spicy Lamb Koftas from the fresh mince, then cook and freeze in their curry sauce to be reheated (thoroughly!) on the day.
The Roasted Veg and Paneer Curry will be made on the day (this for vegetarians, but will also be served with some Koftas for the non-veggies), all the rice needs to be cooked on the day, and the lentil dhal, fresh crisp salad, and the bhajis prepared, to later be fried that day (with samosas) so will probably have to take a couple of days off from writing my blog around that time to allow me plenty of time to concentrate and make it all.

The curries, rice and/or naan will be served by the committee, with a table laden with dhal, raita, salad, mini-poppadums, samosas, onion bhajis, mango chutney and lime pickle for the diners to help themselves. This is the good thing about all these 'extras', they make the more expensive meat curries (also rice) to go further. A plate of rice and curry alone would need twice size of portion, and (to me) would be a bit boring. The above 'additions' help to fill the plates to overflowing and this (hopefully) will make the diners (hopefully) satisfied with their meal.

All I have to do now is to make those lists. Foods that can be bought now, foods to order for next week, foods to cook in advance, foods to prepare the day before, foods to cook (and also reheat) on the day.

Silly me also offered to make an Indian dessert if they wished, suggesting the Indian ice-cream (Kulfi) and/or a mango yogurt. The yogurt can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, the Kulfi also but this then needs freezer space. I should think before I 'speak'. But its all good fun, and not really hard work at all once 'organised'. And if there is one thing I can do well - its organise!

While sitting under the hair-dryer yesterday (this Norma brings and sets up in the conservatory, being one step away from the back door), noticed how fast my seeds were growing. The courgettes already look as though they need re-potting, and all the herbs (but one) are now growing well. Not to mention the mixed salad leaves!
Needless to say most of the time under the dryer I was reading cookery mags to see if I could find alternative Indian dishes to serve (or as well as) before I printed the menu out for B to take that evening to the committee meeting. Am satisfied now with my choice. although if enough time - and space - may make a few more 'extras' if I feel there is a need Even with the 'additions' to the meal, don't have to make 50 of everything, although possibly will do with the samosas and bhajis as these are very popular (they won't be large anyway).

No doubt, each day will be explaining what I've done/made so you can keep pace with me - that is until a those few days up to and including the 'social' when I will be too busy to have a 'chat'. Must try and remember to take photos of much of what I do (when I do it), also the 'help yourself' table of 'extras' when they are laid out at the club.

B's supper yesterday was chilli con carne. I also had some. Today have to think up another meal for my Beloved. Might let him cook himself a stir-fry, that will make it a mite easier for me, even though I have to partly prepare most of the ingredients for him. So far B has only got to the stage of stir-frying what is on the tray given to him, then add the sauce. He is able to cook those quick noodles by heating them in a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Having to prepare foods from scratch as well as cooking them is a step too far in this early stage of B learning to cook for himself. He'll get there eventually

On the other hand (and sensible for obvious reasons) I could use some foods from the freezer to make a meal for B today. It is essential I make more space in the freezers a.s.a.p. This means spending some time sorting out both and maybe even re-packing some of the foods in the (now) half-empty containers. As I keep saying (these days) "it's all go"!

No comments to reply to today. Not unexpected as yesterday's blog was a rush job (as is today's I suppose). This gives me time to offer at least one recipe.

The 'full English' we associate with breakfast, yet this modified version (omitting tomatoes, black pudding, and baked beans, and using cooked ham instead of sausage) does make an 'any-time of the day' meal. Use the large white field mushrooms for this dish or the chestnut 'portobello' (these being firmer with a 'meatier' flavour'.
You will notice the amount of mushrooms/ham/eggs is variable. The amount used really depends upon whether you are making this dish as for a light/lunch or whether it is to be a more satisfying 'dinner' that can be served with oven chips (cooked in the oven at the same time).
Baked Mushrooms with Ham 'n Eggs: serves 4
3 tblsp olive oil
4 - 8 large flat field mushrooms (see above)
salt and pepper
4 - 8 slices cooked ham
4 - 8 eggs
Drizzle a little of the oil over the base of a shallow oven-proof dish. Place on the mushrooms, gill sides facing up. Drizzle the remaining oil over the mushrooms and add seasoning to taste.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Remove from the oven.
Fold the ham into 'pockets' and tuck these between the mushrooms, and break an egg into each. Return to the oven and continue baking for approx 10 or so minutes until the egg white is set and the yolk is still a bit runny. Remove and take the dish to the table for serving (with or without a crisp green salad, hot oven chips, or what you will).

Garlic bread is often served with salads, or toppings, even soups. Here is a variation that can be eaten alone as a 'snack', or served with 'something'. A plate or basket of this served whilst still hot would make a good addition to a buffet table (or al fresco meal).
The best bread to use would be a baguette (or French 'stick'), and if you wish for larger slices then use a 'bloomer' loaf. Bog-standard thick toasting bread is not really suitable.
Creamy Garlic not-quite Bruschetta: serves 4
1 x 400g (14 oz) bloomer loaf
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tblsp butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblsp pesto (or to taste)
Slice the bread and lightly toast on both sides. Mix together the cream cheese, butter, garlic and pesto, then spread on one side of each toasted slice, then grill for a few seconds until the topping has melted and become golden.
Eat whilst still hot/warm. These also eat well served hot with something like a sausage casserole that doesn't include potatoes or other carbo.

Forgive me. Time has moved on again faster than wished, but know you will understand my need to grab as many spare minutes as I can (at least over the next 10 or so days). Will return as usual tomorrow in the hope I can write something interesting. See you then.