Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ill Wind....

Nearly didn't blog at all today.  B's attempt at repairing the toilet cistern went horribly wrong (but I'm used to that happening so was not fussed).  He wanted to do it himself to save paying for a plumber.  It SHOULD have worked, but a screw/nut had rusted in an awkward place and he couldn't turn it despite trying for several hours.  He had bought a new piece to fit, but then he cracked the (ceramic) cistern, and so had to go and buy a whole new (plastic) one  - that included the bit he'd already bought - intending to smash the old one to smithereens so he could fit it, then found he'd bought the wrong one (pipe fittings in the wrong place).  He has now asked a plumber to sort it out - he is coming at 11.00am this morning.  So goodness knows how much it will have cost when all added up.

During the night Ihad stomach pains (probably ate too much cauliflower cheese), very similar to labour pains, lasted all night so kept me awake,  these have abated but now have a very sore throat, hard to swallow.  Probably picked up a bug when we went out last week.

Lovely comment from Sarina who proved that a laden table of festive fare doesn't have to cost a lot. It's all in the planning, and how food is displayed - spread around it can look a lot more than it really is.

Thanks also to Joy for her comment.  As she mentions - just topping up the fresh and some cleaning products, and our weekly expenditure can be kept really low once we have a larder of 'goodies' to use up.
Cleaning products has reminded me - I'd asked B to bring in a big terracotta flower pot from outdoors so that I could plant some late bulbs in it.  Asked him to stand it on a stack of newspaper (which was there on the table ready and waiting ), but discovered he had put it straight onto the cream carpet in the conservatory, and when lifted I saw a lot of dirty water and soil had soaked through from underneath and no amount of brushing would clear it up.
I remembered that bicarbonate of soda is a good cleaning product, and as I'd bought a large tub some years back (still not used) sprinkled some over the dirty patch, rubbing it in gently, then added a bit more and left it.   It obviously had soaked up the muck as when I brushed it off the next day, the carpet was almost as good as new.

Regarding uses for left-over Cranberry Sauce Granny G.  You could put it into small containers a container and freeze it, perhaps to serve with chicken.   If you are up to making a chicken and ham pie ( similar to pork pi. eaten cold), you could include cranberry sauce.  I've seen some pies sold with cranberries forming the 'lid' of the pie.

If you are making a fruit cake (or similar) you could include the cranberry sauce as part of the 'dried fruit', allowing a little extra flour (if necessary) if the sauce is more 'runny' rather than chunky.
Cranberries and oranges go very well together, so you could mix the sauce into an orange jelly to make a dessert.  The sauce is also good spooned over ice-cream.  Left-over mincemeat is also good heated and poured over ice-cream.  Put mince-meat and cranberry sauce together and you have made an alternative filling for mince-pies.

For a buffet dish (or supper dish) you could cook some chipolata (or small sausages) in the oven for 15 minutes, then mix 2 tblsp cranberry sauce with half a teaspoon of ground ginger and 1 tblsp water. Pour this over the sausages and return to oven for another 5 or so minutes until cooked and golden.

If making meatballs from chicken/turkey/pork mince, why not add cranberry sauce along with the other ingredients?  Or fry the meat balls in the normal way and serve them with cranberry sauce to which you've added some red wine.  

Here is a recipe for a chicken and cranberry pie (this to be eaten hot).  The original recipe used red bell peppers, but I've substituted cranberries.  If you wish to use bell peppers (you would need one red bell pepper, seeded and sliced), then omit the cranberries and fry the pepper with the chicken.  My feeling is if you add the cranberry sauce too early on it will colour everything and although taste OK, the appearance would not be as good. If using whole cranberries (not as a sauce) you could cook them with the chicken.

We can alter this recipe to suit our tastes (and what we wish to use up).  Use cooked chicken or turkey, peas instead of broccoli, buy a block of puff pastry and roll it ourselves, and make a cheese and chive dip from cream cheese (slackened with a little milk) or crème fraiche. If you have no chives and do have some spring onions, finely chop (or whizz) a few of their green leaves and then end up looking and tasting like chives (you can do the same with sprouting onions).
Remember to adjust the timing for the pan cooking.  If you use already cooked chicken/turkey, and have broccoli left over from the day before, then they just need stirring in to the already fried onion as they continue to cook when in the oven).

Chicken and Cranberry Pie:  serves 4
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 - 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
6 oz (175g) broccoli florets, chopped
salt and pepper
1 x 425g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
3 tblsp (more or less) cranberry sauce.
150g carton cheese and chive dip
milk for glazing
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for about 3 minutes - until starting to brown.  Add the chicken and cook/stir for five minutes.  Add the broccoli and fry for a further 8 - 10 minutes or until everything is just cooked.  Add seasoning to taste and cool slightly.
Put a rolled sheet of pastry on a dampened baking sheet, then spoon over the chicken mixture leaving a border of about 1" (2.5cm).  Dot spoonfuls of  cranberry sauce and dip over the top.  Brush the pastry borders with water and top with the second pastry sheet pressing the edges together to seal.   Make a few slashes on the surface, and brush with milk.  
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden.  Serve hot.

Yesterday made a dozen large pancakes (to be frozen), B was eager to have some, so I put three in a flat foil parcel and reheated them in the oven.  With some lemon juice (squeezed for him) and caster sugar he happily munched his way through them. "Lovely and thin" he said they were.  They did turn out well, even the first one didn't stick, probably because I'd beaten a little melted butter in the batter and also wiped the non-stick pan with a thin smear of oil before frying each pancake.  Being non-stick it wasn't really a 'smear', just a few tiny globs of oil here and there, but it worked anyway.

Quesadillas (Mexican fried/toasted sandwiches) is a good way to use up both cooked chicken/turkey and cheese.  Don't overfill or they'll be difficult to turn.  It doesn't matter if you use flour or corn tortillas (myself prefer the flour ones - and often make them myself).
Chicken, Cheese and Corn quesadillas: serves 2
4 flour or corn tortillas
2 good handfuls grated cheese
2 large handfuls of cooked chicken, shredded
3 tblsp sweetcorn (pref canned and drained)
2 tblsp sweet dipping sauce
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat.  Put one tortilla in the pan and sprinkle over half the cheese, chicken, corn, and dipping sauce.
.  Cover with the second tortilla and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, then turn over the whole quesadilla. and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes - by which time the base should be golden and the cheese melting.
Remove from the pan and keep warm whilst you cook the second quesadilla.  Then place both on a board and cut each into quarters, serve with salad leaves such as rocket or watercress.

Final recipe today is for a cheese snack. Looks a bit like a savoury Chelsea bun - and a different way to assemble cheese scones.   These will freeze, and when cooked will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Of course you can use different cheeses, and perhaps add a pinch of dried herbs or celery salt instead of the paprika. Another chance to have a play.
Rolled-up Cheese Bites: makes 12
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
1 tsp paprika
4 fl oz (100ml) milk
2 - 3 oz (50 -75g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Rub the flour and butter together and stir in the paprika.  Add the milk, mixing in with a fork to make a soft dough (if too dry add a little more milk , if too soft add a little more flour).
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm thick, keeping it as rectangular as you can. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and roll up like a sausage from the long side.  Cut into 12 even slices/rings using a knife, and place each, cut side down, onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment.  Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden and you can see the cheese has melted.   Remove from oven and leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then finish cooling on a cake airer.
Note:  If you want to make 6 large ones, place two of the rings side by side, with their ends of the touching each other (one may need to be inverted to do this), and they will then cling together as they cook and end up looking like a big 'S' with a spiral effect.

Have to say that writing my blog has cheered me up no end, my sore throat is also much better.  Still waiting for the plumber - he is late, but then they are never on time - much depends on the previous job I suppose.  Just as long as he comes. 

The weather has turned wet and windy again.  We are due for quite a lot of bad weather over the next few days, but with many people taking the long holiday (not working until after New Year) let us hope travel arrangements will be improved when they return home/go back to work.

All being well will be blogging tomorrow, but a lot depends on our domestic difficulties and how I feel in myself.  If I don't return until Jan.1st, then a Very Happy New Year to you all.  TTFN